Washington State Department of Financial Institutions

News Release

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Lyn Peters, Director of Communications, DFI
PH (360) 902-8731 lpeters@dfi.wa.gov

Deb Bortner, Director of Consumer Services
PH (360) 902-0511 dbortner@dfi.wa.gov


DFI Advises Homeowners To Verify The Licenses Of Anyone Offering Loan Modification Services Before Hiring Them

OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Financial Institution’s Consumer Services Division advises homeowners who are delinquent on their mortgage to be cautious about using the services of someone offering to help them work with their lender to modify the terms of their home loan.

The Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) has received a number of inquiries regarding the legality of providing this service in this state. While there is nothing inherently illegal about this business, those providing this service in the State of Washington must be licensed as loan originators, mortgage brokers, or consumer loan companies and be overseen by the Department of Financial Institutions. Additionally, under applicable law, the loan modification provider associated with mortgage brokers have a fiduciary relationship with the borrower and must act in their best interest.

“DFI is concerned that homeowners in desperate situations may pay substantial fees for loan modification services and not take advantage of the HUD-approved counseling services offered for free by numerous non-profits,” DFI Director Scott Jarvis said. “The non-profit providers can often negotiate better deals because they have formed working relationships with many of the lenders.”

“We are concerned because loan modification businesses are using high-pressure tactics to get people to pay for their services, in some instances claiming a 100 percent success rate in negotiating their loan,” warns Deborah Bortner, DFI’s Director of the Consumer Services Division. “The truth is, not every loan is fixable.”

DFI advises homeowners to make sure loan modification providers are licensed as a loan originator before using these services. Verify a license at www.dfi.wa.gov or by calling 1.877.RING.DFI. DFI is also warning consumers to be especially wary if one of these companies asks for a fee up front. Consumers may also wish to seek free homeownership counseling. For more information, visit www.homeownership.wa.gov or call 1.877.894.HOME.

About DFI
www.dfi.wa.gov ▪ 360.902-8700 ▪ 877.746-4334 ▪ In Espaņol 888.976.4422
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates a variety of financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, consumer loan companies, payday lenders, and securities brokers and dealers. The department has won numerous awards for its financial literacy and outreach programs developed to protect consumers from financial fraud. In addition to posting information about licensees and administrative actions, the DFI’s Web site features consumer tips on a variety of financial fraud-related topics.

About the Division of Consumer Services
www.dfi.wa.gov/cs/ ▪ 360.902.8703
The mission of the Division of Consumer Services is to protect consumers from illegal and fraudulent lending practices. The division accomplishes its mission through licensing, licensee examinations, investigations, and enforcing selected state and federal statutes and rules. Consumer Services regulates the business activities of consumer loan companies, mortgage brokers, money transmitters and currency exchangers, as well as check cashers and sellers, also known as "payday lenders." The Division is entirely self-supporting, with funding provided by licensing, auditing, and policing of regulated businesses and individuals. No money is received from the state General Fund or other public revenue source.