A debt collection company has agreed to pay a $15 million civil penalty and another $48 million to consumers to settle allegations of illegal debt collection practices and illegal home loan servicing.
Green Tree, based in St. Paul, is said to have harassed mortgage borrowers who were behind in their payments. They were accused of engaging in harassing collections practices, including calling as early as 5:00 am and as late as 11:00 pm at both homes and offices seven days a week, as well as calling repeatedly throughout the day.
The company would allegedly threaten debtors with property seizure, arrest, foreclosure, and wage garnishment. It is said that they uses harsh language, mocked customers, and even disclosed their debts to their friends, coworkers, and neighbors. They are also accused of debiting payments from bank accounts without permission.
Green Tree allegedly misled borrowers about the options available to them, ignoring loan modifications, and delaying requests for short sales. They are said to have caused consumers to pay higher monthly payments, otherwise the homeowners would lose their homes to foreclosure.
It’s against the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) for a loan provider to lie to customers and to lie about customers, especially lying about the debts that a person owes. It is also illegal for providers to harass people about the debts that they owe.
In addition to agreeing to pay the $63 million settlement, Green Tree agreed to stop the alleged illegal actions occurring within their company. They have also agreed to improve its policies and to help distressed homeowners by making sure it is only collecting on the money that it is owed.
The company didn’t admit or deny any wrongdoing and the agreement to pay the settlement does not signify any sort of guilt. The settlement simply implies that there was evidence that some wrongdoing may have taken place.
Green Tree stated that they felt the resolution was in the best interest of their customers and shareholders.
Before becoming Green Tree, the company was known as Conseco Finance for a number of years. It is a company that has roots in St. Paul. However, it is owned by Walter Investment Management, based out of Florida. The company decided to rebrand after the acquisition in 2013. Later in 2015, Green Tree will be renamed Ditech, a Walter Co.
Customers who feel they have a claim can contact their consumer rights attorney immediately to secure immediate representation and can also file a claim online with the FTC or call the FTC.