|Organization:||Town of East Hampton Office of Housing and Community Development|
|Agency:||Federal Trade Commission|
|Rule:||Mortgage Assistance Relief Services - Proposed Rulemaking; Rule|
Comments:My considered opinion is that for-profit, private enterprise companies that offer services to modify or otherwise negotiate default/foreclosure intervention activities should be screened and registered with the appropriate agency such as the State Banking Department for the state of residence/property. Lenders should be instructed by the Banking department to require a registration number for the negotiator on modification requests. If the service provider fails to supply a valid registration number the file is referred back to the Banking Department, which sends a warning letter to the homeowner. If the property owner has already paid fees to the service provider the file is referred immediately to the Attorney Generals office for follow-up. This would require consumer alerts and educating the public that no homeowner should pay a fee until they receive a valid registration number recognized by the lender as a registered service provider. This will not stop scams but will help tract persistent, recalcitrant scammers. Service provider registration number would have to be tied to the principal's SSN. An FEIN or corporation identification would not be enough to tract scammers, as they dissolve and re-incorporate at regular intervals to stay one step ahead of law enforcement. n the same mailing,along with notification from the lender that the registration number for the for-profit service provider has been recognized and accepted, a list of not-for-profit, free services agencies in the county where the property is located should be mailed. Fees should be capped, contracts required, and only a down payment may be paid until a modification request packet has been accepted by the servicer/lender. I think it is important to allow for legitimate service providers to build a free market industry that provides this service similar to activities of government agencies and non-profits. It gives homeowners more options, allows for healthy competition, and contributes to the professionalization of the housing counselors.