Home Assure, a mortgage relief firm that misled consumers by falsely promising it could save their homes from foreclosure, has agreed to repay $2.4 million to its victims as part of a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, the agency announced.
According to the FTC's complaint, Home Assure launched a nationwide marketing campaign intended to take advantage of struggling homeowners by offering so-called mortgage foreclosure rescue services, for which it typically charged consumers an upfront fee of $1,500 to $2,500.
Home Assure hoodwinked consumers with false promises of special relationships with lenders that it claimed would entitle them to favorable loan modifications or even halt foreclosure. The company also lied about its track record, claiming it had helped thousands of consumers avoid foreclosure.
One of the false claims on Home Assure's web site said: "If we are unable to negotiate a plan with your lender that improves your situation or gives you a viable strategy to avoid foreclosure, we will refund 100% of your money. . . No questions asked!"
According to the FTC, however, Home Assure did little or nothing to help consumers avoid foreclosure, and often refused to refund dissatisfied customers. The company sometimes claimed consumers did not meet the terms of the contract for a refund, or maintained they were in breach of contract by contacting their lender or filing for bankruptcy. Other times, the company simply refused to refund their victims without giving any reason at all.
In addition to a $2.4 million penalty, the settlement order bans Home Assure from selling mortgage loan modification and foreclosure relief services. The order also permanently prohibits Home Assure from misrepresenting any good or service, disclosing or benefiting from customers' personal information, and failing to dispose of customer information properly.
The case is part of the FTC's continuing crackdown on mortgage relief scams preying on desperate homeowners.
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