Posted on 17 November 2010.
I was impressed with Mrs. Thompson and her knowledge. Excellent read with Mr. Levitin’s testimony.
What robo-signing reveals is the contempt that servicers have long exhibited for rules, whether
the rules of court procedure flouted in the robo-signing scandal or the contract rules breached in
the common misapplication of payments or the rules for HAMP modifications, honored more
often in the breach than in reality. Servicers do not believe that the rules that apply to everyone
else apply to them. This lawless attitude, supported by financial incentives and too-often
tolerated by regulators, is the root cause of the robo-signing scandal, the failure of HAMP, and
the wrongful foreclosure of countless American families.
The falsification of judicial foreclosure documents is closely and directly tied to widespread
errors and maladministration of HAMP and non-HAMP modification programs, and the forcedplaced
insurance and escrow issues. Homeowners for decades have complained about servicer
abuses that pushed them into foreclosure without cause, stripped equity, and resulted, all too
often, in wrongful foreclosure. In recent months, investors have come to realize that servicers’
abuses strip wealth from investors as well.3 Unless and until servicers are held to account for
their behavior, we will continue to see fundamental flaws in mortgage servicing, with cascading
costs throughout our society. The lack of restraint on servicer abuses has created a moral hazard
juggernaut that at best prolongs and deepens the current foreclosure crisis and at worst threatens
our global economic security.
The current robo-signing scandal is a symptom of the flagrant disregard adopted by servicers as
to the basic legal and business conventions that govern most transactions. This flagrant
disregard has been carried through every aspect of servicer’s business model. Servicers rely on
extracting payments from borrowers as quickly and cheaply as possible; this model is at odds
with notions of due process, judicial integrity, or transparent financial accounting. The current
foreclosure crisis has exposed these inherent contradictions, but the failures and abuses are
neither new nor isolated. Solutions must include but go beyond addressing the affidavit and
ownership issues raised most recently. Those issues are merely symptoms of the core problem:
servicers’ failure to service loans, account for payments, limit fees to reasonable and necessary
ones, and provide loan modifications where appropriate and necessary to restore loans to
Continue to the testimony below…
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Diane E. Thompson, Of Counsel
Diane E. Thompson has represented low-income homeowners since 1994. She currently works of counsel for the National Consumer Law Center. From 1994 to 2007, Ms. Thompson represented individual low-income homeowners in East St. Louis at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance Foundation. While at Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance, Ms. Thompson served as the Homeownership Specialist, providing assistance to casehandlers representing homeowners in 65 counties in downstate Illinois, and the Supervising Attorney of the Housing and Consumer unit of the East St. Louis office. She has served on the boards of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and the Metropolitan St. Louis Equal Housing Opportunity Council. She was a member of the Consumer Advisory Council of the Federal Reserve Board from 2003-2005. Between 1995 and 2001, Ms. Thompson served as corporate counsel to the largest private nonprofit affordable housing provider in the East St. Louis metropolitan area. She received her B.A. from Cornell University and her J.D. from New York University.
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