Will a $63 million FTC-CFPB settlement encourage Green Tree to turn over a new leaf?

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As the name suggests, Green Tree Servicing was supposed to service homeowners’ mortgages by collecting and crediting monthly payments. But according to a $63 million settlement announced by the FTC and CFPB, rather than service, Green Tree gave many homeowners the business.

Mortgages are often transferred during the life of a loan, so consumers may find themselves locked in a relationship with a servicer they didn’t select – and with no opportunity to shop around. Green Tree was a big name in servicing loans for manufactured housing, but recently made a major move into the residential market. It billed itself as a “high-touch servicer” – a euphemism for a company that places frequent collection calls in an effort to get people to make timely payments. With that strategy, it’s not surprising that Green Tree acquired the mortgages of a proportionally higher percentage of people already in financial trouble. For many of those cash-strapped consumers, that’s when things went from bad to worse.

According to the lawsuit, when homeowners were even just one day late with their payments, Green Tree’s collectors often unleashed a barrage of phone calls, some starting as early as 5 in the morning or continuing until as late as 11PM. The collectors didn’t limit themselves to home phones, getting some people in trouble by calling them at work. They illegally threatened them with arrest or imprisonment, used obscene language, and mocked the problems that led to their financial distress. (One collector said to a woman, “You should leave your husband if he can’t provide for you.”) Green Tree’s loose-lipped collectors were known to discuss people’s debts with bosses, co-workers, neighbors, and family.

When borrowers sought options like loan modifications or short sales, Green Tree allegedly mishandled many of those requests, leaving consumers in even worse straits. For example, some homeowners were in the process of finalizing loan modifications with other servicers when their mortgages were suddenly transferred to Green Tree. Rather than honoring those arrangements, Green Tree often yanked that lifeline from people struggling to stay afloat. Others were told they’d have to pony up payment before they could even be considered for certain loan modification programs – an illogical (and often illegal) requirement for folks who had already sent out a financial SOS. In addition, the lawsuit charges that when homeowners tried to get a short sale approved, Green Tree said it would respond within a set period – say, 30 days. But Green Tree dragged its feet, sometimes taking as long as six months to respond. As a result, people faced foreclosures that could have been avoided.

According to the complaint, even when managing homeowners’ accounts and payments – the bread and butter of a mortgage servicer – Green Tree often overcharged people. For example, Green Tree knew or had reason to know that some borrowers had received loan modifications from their former servicers, but went ahead and insisted on the original amount. And in numerous cases, Green Tree pressured people to use a method called Speedpay, which the company falsely claimed or implied was the only way to make a payment or the sole choice to avoid a late fee. Using Speedpay cost a $12 “convenience” fee per transaction – but convenient for whom? Not necessarily consumers, many of whom could have used free methods and still avoided late fees.

The lawsuit also alleges Green Tree helped itself to payments from consumers’ bank accounts without their authorization. For example, homeowners who gave Green Tree their account numbers to set up a one-time payment through Speedpay later discovered the company had used the information to arrange for additional payments without their consent.

Green Tree also was aware that specific portfolios it acquired from other servicers contained unreliable data. But when homeowners spoke up to dispute the misinformation, Green Tree left them in collections without adequately investigating discrepancies. In a similar vein, Green Tree reported unfavorable information about homeowners to credit bureaus, even when the company had reason to know the data was inaccurate. 

The $63 million settlement is a start, but what’s being done to protect consumers from underhanded tactics from here on in? Among other things, the order requires Green Tree to implement a home preservation plan to offer options to consumers whose loans were transferred to the company during the time covered by the complaint. In the future, when Green Tree is involved in the sale or transfer of servicing rights, requests for help – like short sales or assistance with loan modification programs – will have to be properly reviewed and agreements honored. What about those long delays? The company has to have people and technology in place to respond quickly to customer inquiries, including questions about options for avoiding foreclosure. Green Tree also has to stop collections of disputed amounts until it investigates and provides consumers with verification of what they owe.

When the company has reason to believe that information in newly transferred loan portfolios is iffy, Green Tree has to get proof of what consumers really owe. In addition, Green Tree will maintain a comprehensive data integrity program to help ensure the accuracy of information about customers’ accounts. The settlement also prohibits material misrepresentations about loans, payments, and fees, and mandates compliance with the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act.

What’s the message for others in the industry?

  • There’s a reason it’s called servicing. Mortgage servicers have an obligation to provide service to homeowners. That rules out misleading statements about what people owe, deceptive delays, and unauthorized withdrawals from their accounts.
  • The loan servicing process depends on accuracy at all stages. Inaccurate servicing practices can throw homeowners into a spin cycle with far-reaching consequences, including errors on their credit reports that can haunt them for years. The Green Tree case underscores that accuracy is essential at every step of the process.
  • Deceptive, unfair and abusive debt collection practices are out of bounds. The law provides procedures for collecting debts, but high-pressure tactics, baseless threats, incessant phone calls, and the disclosure of information to employers, relatives, and friends are on the DON’T list.
  • The FTC and CFPB are united in their commitment to protect consumers in financial distress. It’s no coincidence that the action against Green Tree was brought through the cooperative efforts of the FTC and CFPB. The agencies coordinate their activities to make efficient use of resources. In appropriate cases – for example, the $63 million Green Tree settlement – that may include joint law enforcement.

     

Comments

I feel you would have to quit cutting branches to have a "NEW LEAF" the TREE IS DEAD. I feel the company should revise ethic and moral policies and understand THEY GO TOGETHER!

If you feel the need to have a mortgage, pay it as you promised when you signed the loan documents and this won't be an issue.

This comment by dontbbroke is an example of the incompetent, uneducate, bottom feeders that Green Tree employs. No way could a person with any moral standards knowingly contribute to forcing people out of their homes. Only an idiot would fail to see that GT mistreats people and mishandles accounts regardless if the person pays on time.

Don't bb....possibly an employee of GT..

DontBBroke does not live in the real world. Everyone, I mean everyone comes to a part of their life when they need help. Whether it is about money or health, there is always a challenge. When incompetent people like DontBBroke makes that kind of statement? Either has no rules in life or is living in a make believe world... Both will eventually fail or fall hard. God ask his Angels to help us when we are down; lift us up so that we can help others in need. DontBBroke why on God green earth would you make an idiotic statement like that? That bothers me and a lot of people that ruthless people like you think that you are invincible to life challenges. I promise you… You are not.

DontBBroke yes it is a issue with this company

I have been with Green Tree for 5 years... Never been late, but would like to get a lower payment rate. Modified. They declined me due to my salary. Never accessed my present bills. We are all human and that comment you quoted? Retract it dear... Your day will come and you will need help.

The comment by DontBBroke seems like it was written by one of the people who work for Green Tree, because almost all of the people who are harassed by Green Tree, including myself, PAY THEIR PAYMENTS ON THEIR MORTGAGES EACH MONTH! This is not about paying, it is about harassment, ignorance and arrogance of the customer service and the unwillingness of the company to even try to help those who need help.
Why don't you get a different view of what is really going on and then comment on the situation.

Exactly! And it didn't matter WHAT I called green tree for, I always ended up in tears. It was so bad, we finally just decided to let my house be foreclosed on b cause green tree was of absolutely no help. I especially loved when I asked for a modification and they said that in order to even be considered I would have to bring my account current. Lol.... If I could do that would I really need a modification?

OMG! The same thing happened to me. They said I had to bring my account current before seeing if I was a candidate for modification. If I was current I wouldn't be asking for a modification. I've had nothing but trouble from this company with the harassing phone calls 4 to 5 times a day even after my modification papers were being processed. I also received many auto dialed calls where they would call you and you would answer and no one would be there. Also telling me that the only way to pay it was over the phone and paying a $12 charge.

They kept my husband, myself and another company on the phone nightly for 5 days and then told us they "DO NOT do mods. They have called me 7 X's in one min just because I was busy and didn't answer the phone.

That is too funny because I also asked for a modification BEFORE I ever missed a payment and they told me I would have to fall behind first before they could consider. Luckily I did not listen but struggle every month

Green Tree would call our neighbors and tell them to tell us to make sure we paid on time. Also because they had my parents number they would call my 70 plus year old mother and tell her nightly that they were going to take her Social Security Checks. GREEN TREE NEEDS TO BE SHUT DOWN!

Amen!!!!! They told me they didn't do loan modification. I got hurt at work and couldn't work anymore and at one point they were going to put me in foreclosure. They were horrible to try and deal with and they would have me in tears. It was awful!!!

They called me about my ex- husband's loan. He had the loan before we we're married. I told them to stop calling me, but they wouldn't. I got into an argument with them refusing to accept the abuse. They even called our neighbor. That's when I really gave them the business. I started recording the conversations. The final straw was when one of them called me a name on my voice mail. I sued and won.

Good for you - on suing these thieves.
I'm suing soon to, but I have an entire list of laws they've broken.

They are a bunch of thieves and still are practicing the same crooked ways. Can they get investigated & closed down??? No one gives you their real names just some I'd number which is no good because when you call back everyone is in la la land. Close them down!!!

this is great if we could all live in a fantasy world where nothing bad every went wrong.... Just saying. Medical issues can cause a lot of heart ache and problems. I know this happen to me with Green Tree!!! I lost my house & my husband died. I would say this was a catastrophic issue out of our control!! So yes if the world was a perfect world and we could all pay our bills as we promised at the time we would not have these issues....

Although I had not asked them to, and had halted escrowing with Bank of America years earlier, Green Tree took over from BofA, and, without my permission, paid my property taxes in May 2015. I had already paid them, as I always do. They then started to escrow and billed me a total amount for $100+ more/month, and added the half year they decided unilaterally to send the county. They didn't credit my regular automatic draft from my bank , but instead, took part of it as a repaying the tax escrow. I objected, called repeatedly to ask that a correct invoice be sent to me, and went to the county treasurer's office, where I pointed out my long record since 1999 of paid taxes, and my checking account withdrawals proving my lump sums of regularly paid taxes--and regular mortgage payments.

Green Tree--now ditech--are the same company, same p.o.box in CA, and openly affiliated under another corporation umbrella. The lawsuit that resulted in Green Tree being fined for illegal practices was just finished when I went online to find out who was stealing my funds. The treasurer's office returned their $595.90 in a check to them at my request, with a letter wherein I told them not to escrow; I would pay my own taxes; if they persisted, I would sue.

And now I will. Who would like to help? Ditech took over from G.Tree& and aggressively billed in July 2015 for more escrow of taxes. None were due, and I searched my records for any contract giving them a written agreement for applying my mortgage payment to taxes that I pay myself for this property. There is no such agreement. The July statement dated May 12 fraudulently describes a "distribution" of taxes from escrow. Not true. Their bill clearly indicates my mortgage payment due for $760.69, and zero for escrow--plus $3.20 for fees and charges. I had in the past called them out on the "fee" weaseling, and did so again. A mysterious -$16 was indicated as an unapplied amount. My phone calls and mailed copies of paper records and my visit to the state attorney general's office convinced me that this was not about taxes, or financial distress; rather, this was an overt grab for additional money. IF THE COMPANY IS CONCERNED THAT I CANNOT PAY, THEY MUST WAIT UNTIL I DO NOT. THEY MAY NOT DRIVE ME INTO A DELINQUENCY THEY CREATED, THEN THREATEN ME WITH FINANCIAL DISASTER--THEIR BOOKLET ABOUT "HELPING" IS A CLEAR SETUP TO FORECLOSE ON MY PROPERTY I'VE OWNED & PAID FOR PROMPTLY SINCE BUYING IT IN 1999.

I have the right and ability to arrange my own affairs, and the fraudulent attack made by these thieves must be ended. Their deadline given in the mailing is that I must take action (which is suggested by them, without promises) before December 2. My house has been listed with a realtor in March for rent and sale, at market price in a strong seller's market.. It will sell, as has been my intent for years, just as other properties I have sold over the years.

Please help me in this lawsuit that I plan to bring, for the same wrongful acts that caused legal sanctions against their personnel earlier this year. They have not yet learned. Let's educate them.

I have had my house for 18 years, and have had my loan without permission sold 5 times. The last 3, BOA, Greentree and now the horrible new company Ditech. I have constantly called my account representative, left messages, and constantly get the runaround from the office staff in Greensboro, NC. I keep getting letters saying call your account representative and of course I do, no phone calls from him. In all this time he called once before the letters started. I have called a 800 number in Texas Green Tree/Ditech, the lady there and her manager were nice at first, they tried to get
my account specialist, as 30 minutes went by being on the phone with them, I found out : my house is in preforeclosure they say no payment has been made in months, that's bull. I did the speedpay transactions. they swear they sent a certified letter out in September, I never received it and I did
ask my post master if he had seen it, no he hasn't. Then the lady said it was my responsibility to contact my account specialist, as I told her I have tried for over a month and to no avail, he is not responding a Jeffery S. this is a pure nightmare. I would be more than happy to have them educated in their responsibility of the real world. How do these people sleep at night, with a bad conscious?

I refinanced with another company, on closing gave them money for taxes on Oct 1st. Loan closed on Oct 6. Ditech paid my taxes on Oct 9 and received the overage back on Nov. 7th in their tax dept. Ditech Escrow got it back on Nov 19 and I have to wait 30 days for a refund from that date.
Hell yes I will join in a class action suit

I will also join, for some odd reason I believe they are charging us to much money for these homes. It looks as if you never get it paid down and when it appear you are they try to persuade you that you are behind. To their records I stay behind no matter how much I try to stay on top. This company are a pain.

Im ready with u. Ive been robbed too. This company has comitted multiple fraud acts, perjury and entrapment.

I worked for GT for 6 yrs...(note: I am ethical and most everyone in my office was).the way it works is that they collect most of the interest first...only in the last 5/6 years of the loan will you see the balance go down...Kinda like a payday loan....but for houses...crazy huh....

Yes please start a lawsuit! I'm in! Ditech sent me a notice that they wasn't going to foreclose and I had 30 days to call about working together to save my home. I've paid since 1999. The next week I came home and everything I own was tossed in the yard and behind my house down a bank. Everything was broken and destroyed. I called Ditech and they laughed at me. The door was kicked in and when my dog tried to protect her home animal control was called and I didn't have $130 to get her back. I have 3 kids who lost their home, their belongings and their dog. And this bitch at Ditech found it funny.

Did they say prior that they had started foreclosure? Did they admit to throwing your stuff out?

Your story is similar to mine. They paid my taxes on our mortgage even though we had already paid. A "corporate advance" magically appeared and they increased our mortgage payment to pay down the taxes they paid (which were eventually refunded to GreenTree by the County Treasurer.)

Then, GreenTree decided to take my July 2015 mortgage payment I made over the phone (aka speedpay) and instead of posting my payment to principal and interest they lost the money. Even though I provided bank statements showing I had paid and provided a confirmation # that was given over the phone when I made the payment along with providing an ACH Tracer# to identify the electronic payment...GreenTree (now Ditech) then threatened a Notice of Default and foreclosure. I was forced into making another mortgage payment to cover July. It is no January, and Ditech refuses to reimburse me for the extra mortgage payment I made for July 2015 even though I have provided all the evidence. Furthermore, Ditech suddenly started a $25 per month escrow, which we never had or asked for. But, again, I was forced to pay the escrow to avoid foreclosure. I complained about the escrow and asked for my money back. This has also been refused and found out that the $25 per month "escrow" is being posted to principal. DiTech is out of control. They have stolen over $4,000 of my money. DiTech (GreenTree) loan servicing systems must be corrupt and their staff is either incompetent and/or are willfully sabotaging its customers so that their credit is ruined and can never refinance their loan with another company. The Department of Justice needs to intervene.

Something needs to be done about this company. I too have had my fixed 30 yr never late mortgage totally confused because of Their effort to increase my payment every year and then have the nerve to take the escrow balance. Every year it just disappears I'm suddenly short and therefore they add the new shortage which just so happens to be the escrow balance to my new and higher monthly payment. For 3 years this has been disputed to no avail... Even with a so called cushion in place my balance after taxes and insurance is never applied anywhere other than my tax statement. This has cost me thousands and my escrow payment is actually more than is paid to principle. No one will intervene or even bother to do the math. What does it take? Now ditech?

They are just beginning with me. I was told ditch had paid my county taxes .they weren't even due yet. Got my statement in the mail and 48 hours later I was emailed that my taxes had been paid. Had to cancel the check I had mailed. WTF! Sign me up.

GET TO YOUR CONGRESSMAN PRONTO...that is how I fought Green Tree LLC, and I filed complaint after complaint with the District Attorney in my state, and EVERY place I could. Once you start revealing their illegal ways with documentation on how they are STEALING from you they will back down. But you have got to ACT and you have to keep filing the complaints with your District Attorney for fraud. Be a pain in their side, don't let them get away with it, or they will keep stealing and harassing you. Trust me, you have to expose EVERY illegal act. Document any and all phone conversations. Get people in power INVOLVED in your personal case...it doesn't have to be an attorney. Use the governmental agencies. The more they are exposed the better chance you have for saving your home, and before they FORCE you into foreclosure.

They charged me $65,000.00 interest on a $32,000.00 loan.

My mortagage was refinanced thru Green Tree(DiTech) , now that the pmt was late, they served forclosure notice. Back in November 2015. In January 2016 the forclosure was withdrawn, but now DiTech has filed for a non-jury trial by a judge. I have no idea what that is for, I dont know what the tactics are for withdrawing a foreclosure and now for a non-jury trial.?? The papers dont say what the trial is for.. Gives a court date and no further information. What could they be filing for?? They commmited all the acts under Green Tree, and now its DiTech/Green Tree, anyone have an idea what they are trying to do with a non-jury trial??

Whatever happened? My scenario is the same as yours and we have court end of Feb. They are a royal pain and i dont want to loose my house.

How do I get involved in the lawsuit?

please tell me how to contact you. they left me in 11% interest & applied my payments months off ruining my credit. I lost my home for the delay of applied payments and thry owe me a house!

I too was charged that same $16 fee on my monthly invoice. I was told it was to paying for an appraisal of my home because I asked the amount to pay off the loan early.
I requested a copy of the appraisal I am having to pay for yet the dodge or ignore my request. Wonder how we can force Ditech\Grrentree to verify their in applied fees were as they explained them (ie: a copy of said appraisal).

I'm in the exact same scenario, and have been for nearly two years. This is a complete nightmare and by far the worst issue I've ever had to try in deal with. The greentree/ditech company seems to be bullying the little guy and for the most part getting away with it. I myself I've tried and tried to make sence of all of it to them, and they continue to railroad me and my efforts. All in all I believe they are just trying to take my home that I had built myself 12 years ago. Have you had any luck , and what advice do you have?

Did u file your complaint at the cfpb and ftc. They need to know and see that this company is taking them for a joke. Greentree- Ditech dont care about the suit because they are committing the same acts and others. I have gone and continue d going through the same illegal acts. Dont wait file right away. Lets bring them down and put their buiness out the door.

U must be a trust fund baby, had ur college education paid for, rent, or live with ur parents! U HAVE NO CLUE! When signing ur life away to purchase a home for ur family, u cannot predict the future. People lose jobs, get laid off. Govt. Has RIFed or outsoursed military jobs. Big corporations find a big tax break and more cash in their pocket to send USA jobs overseas. I am embarrassed for u! And u graduated what in 1980?

Really!!! Well maybe if the mortgage servicers would do their job and follow guidelines instead of committing fraud and violations this wouldn't be an issue!
Many homeowners do pay on time I am one of them!! $80,000 was found in misapplied, unapplied payments, PMI Padding, Escrow Distortion, 2 forced modifications, 2 illegal Foreclosure attempts oh make that 3 since I am fighting back to save home from illegal foreclosure. Thank god I have a paralegal willing to do all auditing on account, submit QWR, many complaints filed. All the servicer has done is stick head in sand. Well they have a fight on their hands and many more homes get saved every day and that is why I am responding to your ignorant comment.

That is assuming the loan servicer does their job. There is plenty of evidence that they not only did a poor job, but they purposely manipulated things to incur fees such as receiving, but holding payments until after the due dates to incur late fees for which they are not entitled to.

You shouldn't make comments like that unless you know the specifics. Some of us were victims of predatory lending and the market collapse that was caused by greedy banksters and investors. I myself bought a condo in NJ in good faith back in 2006. In 2009 due to a job transfer out of state we couldn't sell because it was worth so much less than we owed. We rented it out taking $700.00 a month in losses trying to be the good guy and do the right thing hoping that the market would recover and we could sell it. Well, here it is 2016 and we are still stuck with it and taking losses with it rented. We have tried to short sale, do a deed in lieu and finally modified the first in hopes of settling the second and maybe just maybe be able to sell it in the next 5 yrs. We have not seen it since we left the area in 2009. I would love to walk away but something tells me to wait. Although the first Is current, we have not paid second in almost 3 yrs and never will.. If we cannot get this resolved in the next year of two we will walk away. Do not have a choice. Cannot keep going down this path of financial ruin for a 732 sq ft condo that is now worth half of what we owe. Landsafe did our appraisal in 2006 and if you look on line they were the company that was owned by Countrywide and forced to over appraise the market and so you tell me again how fair all of this is to all of us still living this nightmare..

I always pay every bill on time and completely. GreenTree / DiTech forced my mortgage into delinquency by applying my payment to and "Other" account and not filing against my mortgage. It is the FRAUD of GreenTree that allowed them to ruin my credit and try to foreclose on my $300K home for a home improvement loan of $32K.
So.... the government needs to stop GreenTree / DiTech from doing business in the USA.

What happens when u get cancer and lose your job? What happens when become paralyzed after being hit by a drunk driver and can't work anymore? Are you stupid or something?

Nationstar mortgage servicing commi
. The very same crime and I been fighting for 10 year's to no avail
The very same thing.

YES it is a problem because greentree/dietech and or Walter co is not doing what the loan Documents that we signed. Wake up they are terrible to do business with and hard to get a answer from. No we have never ever been late with a payment.

Wow, that is great advice unless your servicer more than doubles your mortgage payments on a 30 year, fixed rate loan so you can't make those payments and then foreclose on you property for non payment. Bank of America also threatened me that if i could not make the increased payments, then they would not accept any payments from me and could foreclose on me anytime they wanted to. I was never late on my payments.

Ditech is Greentree. They increased our payments triple but cannot show any missed payments. Also stating it was because of insurance escrow. But we pay separately for insurance. After ,3 years of triple payments they cannot tell us what the psy off is on our home. We haven't missed payments. They are stealing our money and need to be put out of business

I've been in my home for 25 years. Green Tree purchased my papers from BOA and forced an Escrow account and increased my monthly payment over 280.00!! It's not about money ...it's the New America. Run by computers- now known as robo-signing. No facts or grey areas. All black and white based the the parameters set in the "system". I've been trying to resolve this since 10-2012. Fannie Mae is stealing my home and no one has even tried to resolve this violation of my rights- I'm 56 -white male- but, I still have rights- or do I?

While my payments were made through Electronic Speedy Transfers ("ESTs") monthly on time, Green Tree was repeatedly calling me at work and home threatening me with foreclosure. This harassment went on for three months. At one time, the agent for Green Tree asked me if I had been fired. I kept faxing the proof of wired payments to them, and they claimed that they never received the faxes. Also, Green Tree keeps going up on my payments as well. You select who you want as a mortgage provider -- then they turn around and sell your mortgage to Green Tree -- what a nightmare.

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