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Washington state regulators open complaint against mortgage company Ocwen after News Tribune report

Post by Kathleen Cooper / The News Tribune on March 30, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
March 30, 2012 3:02 pm

The state agency that regulates mortgage companies is looking into Ocwen Financial Servicing in light of a News Tribune report this week.

That report detailed the difficulties of Tacoma’s Gary Palagruti, who had a mortgage modification in place when Ocwen took over his loan last fall. Until last week, when The News Tribune began asking questions, Ocwen wouldn’t acknowledge Palagruti’s reduced payment.

An investigator with the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions said Thursday that after seeing the newspaper article, the department opened a complaint on Palagruti’s behalf. It’s just one of about 100 complaints on Ocwen the agency has handled in the last five years or so.

“We’ll be working with him on filing a complaint. Then we’ll use that process, our normal process… to investigate the matter, and we’ll review the actions and inactions of the company we license for compliance with state and federal laws,” said Michéal Freer, an enforcement examiner.

DFI is commonly known for licensing and regulating banks and other financial institutions that take deposits from consumers, but the agency also handles non-depository financial services too. These are businesses like payday lenders, check cashers and mortgage companies.

People generally complain to the state attorney general about problems with businesses, but DFI officials say they’re a good resource, too, particularly with mortgage companies.

“When someone complains about those kinds of things, we get in touch with the company on their behalf,” said Deb Bortner, DFI’s director of non-depositories. That division has about a dozen people looking into complaints. “We make them respond to us. It’s much easier for us to get them to respond. They want us to go away.”

Freer said it takes about six to eight weeks “before we get at least a modicum of a response” to a complaint.

“Ocwen usually does delay response, so it could be three months before we can compel them through a subpoena process” to give us what we’re looking for,” she said.

Ocwen is a huge company, Bortner said, but the level of complaints are typical for the industry.

“There’s nothing that would raise the concern about, oh my gosh, this company is out of control,” she said.

Palagruti said Thursday he still hasn’t received confirmation from Ocwen that they’ll honor his modification.

See Sunday’s News Tribune for more, including an interview with a top official at Ocwen.

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