Delaware Attorney General files lawsuit against MERS

Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden filed suit against Merscorp Inc. and its Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, claiming the company obscures data from borrowers making it difficult for them to save troubled loans. Biden specifically accused MERS of violating Delaware’s Deceptive Trade Practices Act. The AG’s complaint suggests the construction of MERS as the recording system for securitized mortgages is confusing to borrowers, making it difficult for distressed homeowners to find the appropriate contact when attempting to save a loan. Biden echoed the sentiments of plaintiff attorneys by claiming MERS foreclosed in its own name, while lacking authority to do so. The complaint highlights 12 aspects of MERS that the AG sees as a violation of the state law. MERS said its business model is “straightforward and transparent.” “There is no merit to the Delaware attorney general’s allegation of deceptive practices, and we refute claims that use of the MERS system caused confusion to borrowers or any other participants in the mortgage finance system,” according to Janis Smith, MERS spokeswoman. She said homeowners have free access to loan servicer information on the MERS system, and the company’s website also provides access to mortgage counseling and foreclosure prevention organizations. “The borrower’s customer relationship is with the servicer, and not with MERS, and federal laws require the servicer to disclose all changes in ownership to borrowers,” Smith said. Biden further alleged that “MERS is effectively a front organization that has created a systemically important mortgage registry but fails to properly oversee that registry or enforce its own rules on the members that participate in the registry.” Biden claims the MERS network of 20,000 deputized non-employee corporate officers is insufficient to handle mortgage-related issues, creating a situation that contributed to robo-signing and other foreclosure issues. Earlier this week, two Texas counties said they are contemplating lawsuits against MERS for an alleged failure to pay mortgage assignment recording fees to local clerks’ offices. Write to Kerri Panchuk.

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