The consent decree the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau entered into with Green Tree Servicing involves $48 million in restitution and $15 million in penalties. Specifically, Green Tree was accused of not adhering to the modification process of loans in modification at the time they were transferred to Green Tree. In addition, its short sale department did not provide timely responses to short sale requests and was often non-responsive. Further, according to the CFPB, borrowers were harassed into making payments through aggressive and repeated phone calls and threats of potential legal action if payments were not made. Overall, the CFPB described this as a policy of "prioritizing collecting payment over helping homeowners."
Beyond the financial terms, Green Tree was forced to cease all of the above practices, create a detailed data integrity program to ensure it has the correct information about transferred loans, and "provide access to quality customer service."
Examining this latest consent decree with others that have recently been filed demonstrates that the agency expects lenders not only to have systems in place to meet the technical regulations, but to ensure that profit-driven practices are not implemented at the expense of compliance-oriented customer protections.
When practices and policies are implemented in a manner wholly insensitive to the consumer, and the effect makes it difficult for consumers to access accurate or complete information, the result can be a costly compliance violation. Lenders need to pay attention to the balance between aggressive business and compliance to ensure a balanced system where consumers will not — intentionally or otherwise — be deprived or discouraged from receiving information or benefits they are entitled to under new financial regulations.