California Reinvestment Coalition

If CFPB is Weakened by Rep. Hensarling, Companies Like Ocwen Won’t be Held Accountable

Published April 20, 2017 19:31

San Francisco, CA April 20—Paulina Gonzalez, executive director of the California Reinvestment Coalition released the following statement in response to the CFPB’s lawsuit against Ocwen, a mortgage servicer who, according to the CFPB, “failed borrowers throughout the mortgage servicing process.” Twenty states also announced cease-and-desist orders today against Ocwen for improperly handling escrow accounts for homeowners.

“Owning a home is the primary way for most Americans to generate wealth, but Ocwen’s incompetent, inept, and illegal approach to servicing mortgages has jeopardized that possibility for too many Americans, and we applaud the CFPB for holding Ocwen accountable to the law. In our surveys of housing counselors across California, Ocwen has consistently been rated as one of the more difficult servicers to work with.”

However, we are deeply concerned about legislation (“the Choice Act”) Representative Jeb Hensarling is introducing next week that would dramatically undermine the CFPB’s ability to hold companies like Ocwen accountable. It’s deeply disturbing to read that an Ocwen executive described their payment system as “ridiculous and a train wreck.” We would imagine the consumers who lost their homes to illegal foreclosures, whose payments were lost or mis-applied, and who were mis-charged for insurance would agree with that assessment.”

Gonzalez continued: “If Mr. Hensarling’s bill were to become a reality, the type of behavior Ocwen engaged in would become more commonplace, and the companies engaging in that behavior would not face consequences like the lawsuit announced today. We’re at a loss to understand how Mr. Hensarling can justify introducing a bill that would enable and empower companies like Ocwen to trample on their own customers with impunity.

Nearly every American has some sort of interaction with the financial services industry, whether it’s as a homeowner, a student loan borrower, or even a bank customer. Thanks to the CFPB, our economy is safer and more transparent, consumers are better protected against fraudulent actions, and the risks of another Wall-Street fueled mortgage meltdown have been dramatically reduced.

As we saw from the Wells Fargo fake account scandal, too many bad actors from the financial services industry are unable to regulate themselves, and borrowers are all too often the collateral damage. The CFPB has leveled this playing field and forced accountability, but Rep. Hensarling’s legislation would end that accountability.

We would encourage Representative Hensarling to think long and hard about the damage Ocwen has done to homeowners across the country and to consider whether or not hampering the CFPB’s ability to do its jobs is in the best interest of his constituents (some of whom may have been harmed by Ocwen), or of our country. Is his bill representing the interests of Main Street, or is it helping Wall Street and companies like Ocwen that are engaged in illegal and harmful behaviors against Main Street?”

More Background

Hensarling’s “CHOICE Act” will be introduced next Wednesday, and has been widely criticized by consumer advocates who believe the bill is a veiled attempt at undermining the CFPB and its ability to hold financial service companies accountable for illegal conduct. Under the so-called “Choice Act,” the director of the CFPB would be a political appointee who could be dismissed at will. The CFPB would no longer have supervision authority over banks, the popular complaint database would be eliminated, and the bureau would be stripped of its authority to bring cases against financial institutions for unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

CFPB Lawsuit: In the CFPB lawsuit, the bureau explains that Ocwen’s proprietary system to manage and process borrower payments (known as RealServicing) had bad data loaded into the system, but even when it had the correct data, it also generated errors because of system failures, and deficient programming. This resulted in foreclosures that should not have happened, mis-applied payments, forced-placed insurance that should not have been applied, incorrect insurance charges and more.

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CRC has a membership of over 300 nonprofit organizations and public agencies across the State.