(COLUMBUS, Ohio) - Attorney General Mike DeWine on Wednesday filed a lawsuit against Making Home Affordable of Costa Mesa, Calif. The suit alleges that the loan modification business charged significant fees and did little or no work for consumers. Making Home Affordable's mail and telephone solicitations gave consumers the false impression that it was affiliated with the federal Housing and Urban Development agency.
"Deceiving homeowners into thinking they are going to get a break on their mortgages, and charging them for this so-called help, is very disturbing," said Attorney General DeWine. "We won't tolerate it."
More than 20 consumers have filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General's Office. Making Home Affordable solicited through the mail and targeted homeowners who were behind on their mortgage payments or close to foreclosure. After submitting a "financial packet" to the company, consumers were usually told they have been accepted for a modification and were sent what appeared to be a loan modification with a new monthly payment amount and due date.
Consumers were instructed to then contact the company by telephone for verification. Representatives of the company directed consumers to either send in a lump sum payment to be held in escrow or make a payment directly to Making Home Affordable.
Consumers were led to believe the money they sent would be forwarded to their lenders and applied to the modification, according to the lawsuit. Instead, Making Home Affordable kept this money and deposited it into its own bank accounts. Additionally, Making Home Affordable either made no contact with consumers' lenders or had no effective communications with them.
The lawsuit charges several violations of Ohio's Consumer Sales Practices Act and seeks restitution for all consumers harmed by the company, injunctive relief, and penalties.
Attorney General DeWine offered the following advice for consumers struggling to make their house payments:
Call your lender yourself and ask for the loss mitigation department. Fully describe your situation to receive the best and most realistic options. If the lender does not help, contact Save the Dream Ohio at www.savethedream.ohio.gov.
Stay in your home. By vacating a home, some rights may be lost.
Monitor your mail carefully. Legitimate government and nonprofit agencies may send you information to help you keep your home.
For more information, or to report a possible scam, visit www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov or call 800-282-0515.
Making Home Affordable (PDF)
Dan Tierney -- 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti -- 614-466-3840