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Alert 2011-2
Description: Deceptive Correspondence Regarding Mortgages Held by National Bank Consumers

Deceptive Correspondence—Payment Reduction Notice

To: Chief Executive Officers of All National Banks; All State Banking Authorities; Chairman, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System; Chairman, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Director, Conference of State Bank Supervisors; Deputy Comptrollers (districts); Assistant Deputy Comptrollers; District Counsel; and All Examining Personnel

Webster Bank, Waterbury, Connecticut, has notified the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) that the bank’s customers have received loan modification solicitations from two California companies, Novation Marketing Center and Novation Law Center. Neither company is affiliated with Webster Bank nor authorized to act on behalf of Webster Bank.

On March 17, 2011, the Office of the Attorney General of Connecticut issued a press statement warning consumers that these companies are not licensed in Connecticut to provide mortgage loan modification services and are not affiliated with Webster Bank. The statement noted that consumers need to be aware of scams in which unlicensed companies masquerade as affiliates of banks or other financial institutions when, in fact, they have no legal connection or authorization. The Connecticut Attorney General also sent a letter to the Novation companies demanding that they cease and desist from doing business in Connecticut without a license.

The payment reduction notices contain language that may lead consumers to believe that they are in danger of losing their homes and urge consumers to call (888) 581-8793 within 30 days. The notices are deceptive and misleading because they falsely lead consumers to believe that Webster Bank is offering this program.

Consumers who are having difficulty making their mortgage payments or who receive an alleged modification notice should contact their lenders immediately. For further legitimate assistance, contact:

  • The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 or go to www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hccprof14.cfm.

  • HOPE NOW—Call (888) 995-HOPE, the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline, to reach a nonprofit, HUD-approved counselor through HOPE NOW, a cooperative effort of mortgage counselors and lenders to assist homeowners.

  • NeighborWorks America through its Web site at www.nw.org/network/home.asp.

Consumers who receive mortgage modification solicitations should research the license status of the companies making the solicitations prior to making contact with these companies or providing personal information to them.  If you believe that a company is acting in an unethical or questionable fashion, please report the company to the Federal Trade Commission, your state’s finance department, or state and local consumer protection agencies. If the question involves a national bank, and the question cannot be resolved with the bank directly, contact the OCC’s Customer Assistance Group by calling (800) 613-6743 or by visiting www.HelpWithMyBank.gov.

Any information regarding the subject of this or any other alert that you wish to bring to the attention of the OCC may be sent to occalertresponses@occ.treas.gov.

The Comptroller of the Currency offers the following consumer resources:

Richard C. Stearns
Director for Enforcement & Compliance

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