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Monday Morning Cup of Coffee: New Mexico warns of scammers pretending to be Nationstar

Wells Fargo accused of ripping off mom-and-pop businesses

Monday Morning Cup of Coffee takes a look at news coming across HousingWire’s weekend desk, with more coverage to come on larger issues.

Borrowers and lenders, here is your warning! Reports of mortgage scams and financial hackers keep making it to HousingWire’s headlines—beware.

The latest attack involves well-known mortgage company Nationstar. According to a scam alert issued by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas, callers who claim to be with Nationstar are asking for money to be sent to an attorney in Florida promising a loan modification on the victim’s mortgage.

The scammers are asking New Mexicans to wire money upwards of $1200, money that they may never get back, Balderas cautioned.

The alert stated that the calls come from Ymax or Magic Jack phone numbers and can appear to come from any area code.

“Calls and offers like these are scams and New Mexico homeowners need to be vigilant, because once you wire that money you may never get it back,” said Balderas. “If you are struggling to make your mortgage payments, there is legitimate help available to you from our Keep Your Home New Mexico program. Please contact our office and we will work with you to see what options are available to you and your family.”

“Foreclosure can feel like a hopeless, scary situation, but the worst thing you can do is nothing at all. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse so please contact Keep Your Home New Mexico if you need assistance,” Balderas added.

Balderas advised that if borrowers are facing foreclosure, they should take action by calling 1-800-220-0350 or visiting

The news reiterates the importance behind the tips the Federal Trade Commission and the National Association of Realtors put out earlier this year to warn consumers. Check here for the tips.

Balderas also had tucked into his website a reminder for 192 New Mexico homeowners who need to cash their National Mortgage Settlement checks.

Checks must be cashed, or a new check must be requested, before Aug. 25, 2017 or the funds will be transferred to the State of New Mexico.

“It’s important that New Mexico homeowners receive the money they are entitled to from the National Mortgage Settlement before those funds are transferred to the state as unclaimed property,” said Balderas. “If you believe you should have received a check, please contact Rust Consulting, Inc. immediately in order to avoid forfeiting your settlement funds.”

The consumer relief checks date back to the February 2012 settlement between 49 state attorneys general, the District of Columbia and the federal government announced a historic joint state-federal settlement and the country’s five largest mortgage servicers: Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.

Moving across the country to a different attorney general’s office, a group of homeowners in Massachusetts are getting a pay out thanks to an investigation from the state.

The office of Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey said in a statement Friday that more than 4,500 homeowners received settlement checks totaling $6.3 million last week following an audit on property insurance practice, an article in the Boston Globe by Ben Thompson reported.

The article reported that the payout followed an investigation into unnecessary charges billed to homeowners on their force-placed insurance policies by the Assurant Inc. subsidiary American Security Insurance Company.

From the article:

“Our investigation found that this insurance company was charging consumers for costly and duplicative coverage,” Healey said in the statement. “As a result of our audit, 4,500 homeowners will be getting a check in the mail after being forced to pay for products they did not need.”

“Assurant has cooperated with the Attorney General’s inquiry and is pleased to have reached a resolution,” Assurant spokesman John M. Moran said in an e-mail.

The list of alleged charges against Wells Fargo is adding up, with the latest one dealing with the bank’s merchant services division.  

According to an article in CNN Money by Matt Egan, the mega bank is being accused of ripping off vulnerable mom-and-pop businesses.

From the article:

For several years, Wells Fargo's merchant services division overcharged small businesses for processing credit card transactions, a lawsuit alleges. Business owners who tried to leave Wells Fargo were charged "massive early termination fees," according to the lawsuit filed in US District Court.

The "overbilling scheme" targeted less sophisticated businesses by using "deceptive language" in a 63-page contract designed to confuse them, the lawsuit filed on August 4 claims. The lawyer filed court documents to seek class action status.

Regarding the lawsuit, the bank said, "We deny these claims and intend to defend against [it]." The company added that it believes its "negotiated pricing terms are fair and were administrated appropriately."

Just earlier this month, the bank announced that it agreed to pay $108 million to the federal government to settle allegations that the bank overcharged military veterans for refinance loans.

And this is on top of the bank still dealing with the fallout from its fake account scandal, which saw the bank fined $185 million for more than 5,000 of the bank’s former employees opening more than 2 million potentially unauthorized accounts to get sales bonuses.

Looking at Richard Cordray for Ohio governor 2018 watch, a new editorial from The Wall Street Journal stated that it expects the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to step down after Labor Day, which is Sept. 4.

The piece claims that despite President Donald Trump being rough on his staff and even his Cabinet, “he’s bestowed immunity on the government employee who least deserves it: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray.”

The article states:

“For months the Administration has declined to fire Mr. Cordray for cause, despite a litany of reasons and even an appellate-court ruling saying that under the Constitution he can be fired at the President’s pleasure. Mr. Trump rages against Obama-era holdovers in the executive branch, and not without cause, but in this case the damage to his deregulatory agenda, to the economy, and perhaps to the state of Ohio is made in the Oval Office.”

Up until now, it was rumored that ideally, if Cordray does choose to run for governor, he would need to enter the race by the end of summer, well ahead of the Ohio filing deadline. The deadline for candidates to file their petitions for the 2018 Ohio Governor Primary is Feb. 7, 2018.

For the week ahead, Realtors should mark Tuesday, Aug.15 at 3 p.m. EST off their calendar. Bob Goldberg, the new CEO of the National Association of Realtors, will be answering questions via live video about the issues that are top of mind for the real estate industry.

The open discussion is big deal given Goldberg is NAR's first new CEO in 36 years. People can submit questions prior to the event on FacebookTwitter and LinkedIn with hashtag #AskBobNAR.

That’s a wrap for now! Check back throughout the week for all the latest news and announcements on housing finance. 

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