Settlement Proposed in Multi-State Unfair Mortgage Practices Case
A$120 million multi-state settlement with Lender Processing Services, Inc. and its subsidiaries, LPS Default Solutions and DocX has been reached with Pennsylvania and 45 other states and the District of Columbia. The proposed settlement resolves allegations that the Jacksonville-based company, which primarily provides technological support to banks and mortgage loan servicers, “robo-signed” documents and engaged in other improper practices related to mortgage loan default servicing. When it’s approved by the court, the settlement will require LPS and its subsidiaries to reform their business practices and, if necessary, to correct documents they executed to assist the homeowner. Pennsylvania’s share of the settlement is approximately $3.4 million. The lawsuit and the proposed settlement are being filed today in the Commonwealth Court and will require Court approval.
“I’m very pleased to join with other Attorneys General in this settlement,” said Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane. “We will use this money to protect consumers and prevent them from being ripped off.”
“The settlement holds these companies accountable for the alleged wrongdoings and puts in place reforms of business practices, to ensure proper handling of mortgage-related documents in the future,” said Kane.
The proposed settlement, to be filed separately in each participating state, will also require proper execution of documents and prohibit signatures by unauthorized persons or those without first-hand knowledge of facts attested to in the documents, enhanced oversight of the default services provided, and a review of all third-party fees to ensure that the fees have been earned and are reasonable and accurate. The settlement also accomplishes the following:
· Prohibits LPS (including DocX) from engaging in the practice of surrogate signing of documents;
· Ensures that LPS has proper authority to sign documents on behalf of a servicer, if in fact it is signing documents;
· Requires LPS to accurately identify the authority that the signer has to execute the document and where that signer works;
· Prohibits LPS from notarizing documents outside the presence of a notary and ensures that notarizations will comply with applicable laws;
· Prohibits LPS from improperly interfering with the attorney-client relationship between attorneys and services;
· Prohibits LPS from incentivizing or promoting attorney speed or volume to the detriment of accuracy;
· Requires LPS to ensure that foreclosure and bankruptcy counsel or trustees can communicate directly with the servicer;
· Requires LPS to have enhanced oversight and review of processes over third parties it manages, including those entities that perform property preservation services;
· Prohibits LPS from imposing unreasonable mark-ups or other fees on third party providers’ default or foreclosure-related services;
· Requires LPS to establish and maintain a toll-free phone number for consumers concerning document execution and property preservation services (including winterization, inspection, preservation, and maintenance); and
· Requires LPS to modify mortgage documents that require remediation when LPS has legal authority to do so and when reasonably necessary to assist a consumer or when required by state or local laws.
In the proposed settlement, LPS stipulates to important facts uncovered in the investigation, including the practice by DocX of so-called “surrogate signing,” the signing of documents by an unauthorized person in the name of another and notarizing those documents as if they had been signed by the proper person, as well as other improprieties in the document execution and recordation or filing process.
Upon court approval of the settlement, LPS will undertake a review of documents executed during the period of January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2010 to determine what documents, if any, need to be re-executed or corrected. LPS will make periodic reports to the Attorneys General of the status of its review and/or modification of documents. LPS will make a toll-free number available to consumers, who may call and request review and correction of any documents executed by LPS.
Pennsylvania served on the team of investigating states’ Attorneys General, and is joined in today’s settlement by: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and the District of Columbia.