On November 5, 2015, the DOJ’s U.S. Trustee Program announced that it entered into a nationwide settlement agreement with a national bank over allegations the bank failed to file mortgage payment change notices in bankruptcy proceedings. When a debtor has entered Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings, federal bankruptcy law requires mortgage creditors to file a payment change notice with the court at least 21 days before changing a debtor’s mortgage payment. The creditor must also serve the notice on the debtor, debtor’s counsel and the bankruptcy trustee. According to the DOJ, the bank failed to timely file or serve more than 50,000 payment change notices in bankruptcy proceedings. The Bank’s automated system allegedly failed to identify certain qualifying events—such as loan modifications or interest rate changes—that caused changes in a borrower’s monthly payment and required the bank to file a payment change notice. The system also failed to identify qualifying events for mortgage loans that the bank considered “complex.” The DOJ also alleged that the bank failed to perform annual escrow analyses or provide escrow statements for approximately 18,000 accounts, which in some cases should have resulted in a downward adjustment of the monthly payment and the filing of a payment change notice. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the bank has agreed to pay a total of $81.6 million in restitution to affected homeowners. The bank also agreed to reform its internal monitoring system, additional employee training, and new quality control measures. The parties agreed to appoint an independent reviewer to monitor compliance.
Blog Enforcement Watch November 05, 2015