For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
Date: December 28, 2009
Idahoans to get Refunds from New Jersey Mortgage Modifier
(Boise) - Idaho homeowners who paid a Westmont, New Jersey, company to help them obtain mortgage modifications will receive refunds as a result of a settlement agreement, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. The agreement with Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company LLC requires the loan modification company to pay $19,710 to 12 Idaho consumers and to stop operating in the state. Consumers should receive their refunds from the Attorney General’s Office before June 15, 2010.
This is the third settlement this year involving a mortgage modification business. Wasden is continuing investigations into several other mortgage modification companies and filed lawsuits against Apply 2 Save, Inc. and APS Northwest Idaho LLC.
“Loan modification schemes continue to be one of the most serious issues facing Idaho consumers. Time after time, consumers tell us they have paid large upfront fees to a loan modification company without obtaining any results,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said. “On the other hand, there are many free and effective mortgage modification programs available. I urge Idahoans at risk of foreclosure to read the free publication, Foreclosure Prevention and Foreclosure Scams: How to Tell the Difference, available on my web site, and to contact a free HUD-approved housing counselor.”
The Attorney General’s investigation of Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company began after a consumer filed a complaint about a direct-mail ad. The ad, labeled a Form “009-S Payment Reduction Notification,” listed the consumer’s address and a “total loan amount” of $150,000. The ad referred to a “Buyout Program” and stated that the homeowner could qualify for a “special modification program” under the Economic Stimulus Act of 2008. The ad’s appearance suggested it came from the government, which is unlawful under the Idaho Consumer Protection Act.
The ad encouraged the consumer to call a toll–free telephone number to confirm eligibility. When the Attorney General’s Office called the phone number, a representative of Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company answered.
The company, which claims to negotiate mortgage modifications, charged Idahoans an upfront fee ranging from $1,000 to $1,800. Idaho law prohibits requiring a borrower to pay any fees or charges before the modification is completed. Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company was not licensed by the Idaho Department of Finance to offer loan modifications in Idaho.
Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company also agreed to cease operating in Idaho or soliciting Idaho consumers. If the company is found doing business in Idaho, it is subject to a $20,000 civil penalty.
Best Interest Rate Mortgage Company did not admit any wrongdoing.
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