Minnesota State Attorney General Lori Swanson filed lawsuits today alleging that two companies have violated a new state law that prohibits firms from requesting advance payment when offering to help consumers modify mortgage terms. Swanson said the lawsuits are the first filed under the new law, which was passed last year. "Homeowners who contact their lenders to modify their mortgages often face unreturned phone calls, lost paperwork and other red tape," Swanson said in a statement. "This and the bad economy have created an opening for mortgage modification companies to swoop in and take advantage of people." The lawsuits were filed against: American Modification Consultants LLC of Philadelphia, which does business as American Mitigation Consultants; and INQB8 LLC of Scottsdale, Arizona, which does business as Discount Mortgage Relief. Representatives with both companies could not immediately be reached for comment. One lawsuit was filed in Washington County, and the other in Anoka County. The state law prohibits mortgage modification companies from charging fees to consumers before they deliver on the promised services of negotiating or modifying the terms or conditions of existing home loans. Such modifications have become a priority of the federal government and lenders in response to the growing number of bank foreclosures. The lawsuits from Swanson allege that the companies violated Minnesota law by charging advance fees to homeowners and failing to deliver promised services.