Ocwen Financial announced yesterday that it is no longer using the Ocwen name. It didn’t suddenly close its doors (we wish), it simply changed its name. As of now, the company will service loans under the names PHH Mortgage and Liberty Home Equity Solutions.
We first reported on Ocwen’s merger with PHH in March of 2018. At that time we worried what the marriage of the two worst loan servicers could produce. And our worst fears came true. We hear daily from frustrated homeowners that can’t get answers (and when they do get an answer, it is often wrong)!
For years we have been on the forefront of class action investigations and whistleblower investigations of Ocwen. The company seems to spend more money on lobbyists than it does customer service. Propped up with lots of political muscle and big hedge fund money, the company just gets more powerful. And thus far the CFPB and other regulators haven’t been successful with reigning it in.
The acquisition of PHH Mortgage for $360 million makes Ocwen even more powerful.
When the merger was approved, Ocwen promised it was ready to behave. We haven’t seen it, however. In fact, starting with a clean slate seems to be nothing more than changing names. Ocwen is a household word today and for all the wrong reasons. Now it will be known as PHH Mortgage or Liberty Home Equity Solution.
There are two definitions of “liberty” in the dictionary. The first says, “the state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life or behavior.” Ask the average homeowner unlucky enough to have PHH or Liberty Home as their loan servicer if he or she feels free of oppression.
The other definition of liberty is “the power or scope to act as one pleases.” Certainly Ocwen or PHH or Liberty Home or whatever they call themselves these days feels that way.
Industry publication Housing Wire said this about the merger and name change, “Now it seems that disaster is finally behind the mortgage giant as it completes the final phases of integration following its $360 million acquisition of PHH.”
Unfortunately, we don’t think that is the case nor do the hundreds of homeowners who have written to us with PHH horror stories.
PHH Mortgage Fraud History
The acquisition of PHH Mortgage by Ocwen is relatively new. But PHH Mortgage has its own history of wrongdoing.
Last summer, PHH settled deceptive business practices charges levied by the Georgia Attorney General. The company paid a fine and agreed to reform its business practices. The state said that PHH was marketing third-party products and services such as insurance and home warranty programs to property owners. Many were not aware these charges were being added to their mortgage bills.
In 2017, PHH paid the feds $74 million to settle claims that the company wrote bad loans and later passed those loans on to the VA and FHA.
In January of 2018, PHH Mortgage settled charges with 49 states that if failed to properly apply payments from homeowners. Many PHH and Ocwen customers have told us of similar problems. It doesn’t appear that the $45 million fine levied last year by the states has corrected PHH’s behavior.
What Do We Know About Liberty Home Equity Solutions?
Liberty Home Equity Solutions, affiliated with Liberty Reverse Mortgages, has been around since 2003. If there is any hope in this story, it is with Liberty Home. The company has had very few complaints according to the Better Business Bureau and enjoys a great rating.
Will the company continue to be a good corporate citizen or will it be corrupted by the evil PHH / Ocwen axis? We pray for the best.
Fighting Back Against Ocwen / PHH
It is certainly easy to use this blog as a podium to bitch and complain. That doesn’t offer homeowners any solutions, however. (Unfortunately, until there is more political pressure, we don’t see any immediate fixes.)
So what can homeowners do and how can we help?
Let’s start with us. We are a class action and whistleblower law firm. We are always looking for mortgage company insiders willing to confidentially share stories of corporate wrongdoing.
Our whistleblower clients helped the federal government collect $16.7 billion from Bank of America (billions of that money going to direct relief programs) and helped Uncle Sam take down Allied Home Mortgage, then the largest non bank FHA lender in the nation. (The Bank of America whistleblowers received $150+ million for their efforts. The Allied case remains under appeal by Allied.)
If you have information about illegal servicing or underwriting, call us. We can see if your information can be made into a False Claims Act whistleblower case on behalf of the government. Our investigation is confidential and at no cost to you.
Homeowner? We get calls daily from homeowners looking for help. Unfortunately we are not set up or licensed to provide individual foreclosure defense services in the fifty states.
Instead, we help by bringing class actions against banks, mortgage companies and other lenders. The average homeowner, especially one who has fallen behind on payments, can’t afford a lawyer to fight a billion dollar financial institution. By handling cases on a class action basis, we can represent hundreds or thousands of homeowners at once. We get paid as a percentage of what the wrongdoer pays or whatever the court sets as our compensation.
The problem, however, with class actions is Congress. The financial institutions have lobbied hard and were successful in limiting class actions in the foreclosure space. Congress imposed a legal requirement in class actions called commonality. Unless we can show everyone has the same damages, courts won’t certify the class.
If Ocwen or PHH wrongfully is charging homeowners a fee, everyone has the same damages. That commonality becomes almost impossible, however, if we are trying to help homeowners who are losing their homes or fighting for a modification.
If you wish to share a PHH or Liberty horror story, we are happy to listen. We only accept emails from homeowners and cannot take phone calls. We are already overwhelmed with emails and simply don’t have the time to speak to everyone personally nor can we give legal advice to non-clients. (PHH and Liberty Home insiders and employees are welcome to call.)
If we think we can successfully make a class action case with your information, we will let you know.
Okay, so you figured out the odds of us being able to help if you are facing foreclosure or have lost your home aren’t great. That doesn’t mean you should give up.
First, always document every call and piece of correspondence with Ocwen. Keep a journal and send documents certified mail return receipt requested. It’s one thing to tell a judge that you called Ocwen a “hundred times”. It is another thing to march into court with a journal complete with names, dates and times.
Second, many lawyers that advertise foreclosure defense are bankruptcy lawyers. We believe that bankruptcy often isn’t the answer. Many times you need a specialist that knows how to fight banks and isn’t afraid to try. That means shop carefully for a lawyer and ask lots of questions, particularly if the lawyer’s website appears to suggest they only do bankruptcy work. We have nothing against bankruptcy lawyers but we don’t think that many cases require filing for bankruptcy protection.
Can’t find a lawyer? Finding lawyers willing to sue banks isn’t easy. If you aren’t successful on your own, ask the state or county bar association for help. Most have a free lawyer referral service that will help you find the right lawyer.
Can’t afford a lawyer? That’s a tough one. Most lawyers don’t take homeowner defense cases on a contingent fee basis. They want to be paid upfront for their services. If you are truly hurting financially, try contacting the legal aid provider near you. The bar association can help.
We have taken cases without payment before but never off the street. Many lawyers will take the occasional pro bono case but like us, they take those cases through the area legal aid provider.
Whether Ocwen or PHH or Liberty Home, we think Ocwen’s name change is yet another scam.
The company says the conversion “enables us to drive future enhancements for our customers, investors and employees. Overall, [we are] pleased with our progress to date on delivering on our objectives to strengthen and position the company for a return to profitability.”
We say that Ocwen just put on lipstick. A pig is still a pig.
[*Our comments aren’t meant to offend the many quality people who work at Ocwen. Although homeowners may be frustrated, Ocwen rank and file workers tell us that their hands are tied, they are understaffed, they can’t get to every phone call and their computer systems are so antiquated that one customer service representative can’t always see what another person in the company has done or said. The problem at Ocwen is in its upper management and culture, not the front line workers.]
PHH – Liberty Home Equity Solutions Insiders Wanted
Are you a present or former employee of PHH Mortgage, Ocwen Financial or Liberty Home Equity Solutions with knowledge of wrong doing? Give us a call. All inquiries are confidential and protected by the attorney – client privilege. We can be reached online, by email or by phone 414-704-6731 (direct).
Homeowner? Write to us and we will certainly see if we can help. Please visit our current Ocwen investigations page to see what we are investigating. Don’t see your problem listed? Write to us anyway, everyday new schemes and scams are uncovered. We can be reached online or by email at . We also invite you to visit our Ocwen / PHH resources page.