Professional & Financial Regulation – Consumer Credit Regulation
More Than a Dozen Homeowners to Receive Reimbursement of Fees
February 15, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Following an investigation by Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection and the Attorney General’s Office, State officials have taken legal action against a Massachusetts-based debt management company. The State alleged that 123 Fix My Loan, LLC was not licensed to operate in Maine nor properly bonded and therefore acting illegally.
Homeowners who made payment to 123 Fix My Loan, LLC for mortgage loan restructuring/modification services complained about significant fees and little or no action by the company to address their loan problems. The investigation indicated that, in addition to allegedly operating without a license, the company charged fees in excess of those allowed under Maine law. The State contended that the company also failed to provide appropriate disclosures and other required consumer protection notices.
Under Maine law, debt management companies are required to be licensed and bonded through the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection. Additionally, these companies are required to offer an approved consumer education program and to ensure that their debt management counselors are properly trained and certified.
“Many debt management companies comply with the law by becoming licensed and bonded for the protection of consumers,” said Will Lund, Superintendent of Consumer Credit Protection. “This company, however, failed to follow Maine law. It sought and accepted excessive fees from homeowners who were already struggling with mortgage payments, and then left many of these individuals convinced that little or no action was taken on their behalf.”
The Attorney General’s Office filed a lawsuit in Superior Court against 123 Fix My Loan on February 8, 2010. A Consent Decree and Order, which was also filed on February 8th, has been accepted by all parties to resolve the matter. The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection within the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation in cooperation with the Attorney General’s Office.
Attorney General Janet Mills said, “My office will continue to take prompt and forceful legal action against deceptive debt management companies who take unfair advantage of vulnerable consumers. Homeowners facing foreclosure may obtain a list of reputable organizations that can provide legal advice at www.maine.gov/ag. Before paying a debt management company, homeowners should investigate and make sure that any mortgage rescue company they would like to work with is licensed to do business in Maine.”
The Consent Decree and Order provides the following:
a) 123 Fix My Loan and its principals will be prohibited from practicing or offering debt management services in Maine until such time as they become fully licensed and bonded.
b) The Defendants will fully reimburse 14 Maine consumers a total of $21,300 for all fees these consumers paid to 123 Fix My Loan. This money will be paid over time at $1,500.00 a week. One consumer has already been reimbursed $1,800. (Additionally, in 2009, two other consumers were reimbursed a total of $2,598.00.)
c) The Defendants will reimburse the Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection $1,500.00 for its costs of investigation.
d) The Defendants will reimburse the Office of the Attorney General Consumer Fund $1,000.00 for its effort in this case.
Consumers are strongly encouraged to make sure all debt management, loan modification, foreclosure rescue or mortgage restructuring companies are authorized to do business in Maine. A list of the 39 licensed and bonded debt management companies can be found at www.Credit.Maine.gov under “Rosters” and then “Debt Management Service Providers.” Anyone with questions or concerns should contact the Bureau by calling 1-800-332-8529 (1-800-DEBT-LAW). Consumers facing imminent foreclosure can call the Bureau’s foreclosure prevention hotline at 1-888-NO-4-CLŌZ (1-888-664-2569, to be connected to a free housing counselor.
For further information about how to obtain help with mortgage loan modification, please visit the website of the Office of the Attorney General at www.maine.gov/ag and click on “Can I Save My Home from Foreclosure.”