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New Top Ten List: Mortgage Abuses in VA

May 31, 2011

RICHMOND, Va. - As thousands of homeowners in Virginia continue the struggle to keep their houses out of foreclosure, The Center For Responsible Lending is counting the ways they are not getting "love" from their lenders, compiling a "Top Ten" list of abuses.

Paula Sherman, education and training coordinator for Housing Opportunities Made Equal (HOME) of Virginia, has seen it all, from illegal fees to the now much-publicized "robo-signing," where loan documents are never properly reviewed and court documents are falsified. She says the mortgage system can be tricky, even for the savviest homeowner, but knowledge is power.

"Number one: know the signs. Many homeowners don't know that they've been abused, for lack of a better word, by their servicers, that they've been a victim of one of these abuses."

Sherman says it's important for homeowners to seek help by contacting a HUD-approved housing counselor and also reporting any incidents to the state Attorney General's Office.

She says the lending companies are not regulated in a way that necessarily benefits the homeowner, who can be left with little to no recourse when it comes to foreclosure. She says buyers should make sure to document the entire process.

"When they communicate with their servicer, write who I spoke with, the time I spoke with them, if the person they're speaking with has a representative ID number, a phone number. Track and document is so important."

People who believe they are victims of wrongful foreclosure conduct can file complaints with the Virginia Attorney General's office, says communications director Brian Gottstein.

"We are currently looking into the mortgage industry and its practices here in the Commonwealth; we're investigating the industry in general, and we are looking for consumers to bring us their complaints. Citizens also may also wish to contact a private attorney and a Legal Aid office, if they qualify."

Gottstein says a list of information that will be needed by the AG's office can be found on their website, www.vaag.com

The Top Ten list list of mortgage abuses is at www.responsiblelending.org

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA