Posted on November 17, 2012 at 12:35 AM
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman warned Wells Fargo on Friday that his office will “aggressively pursue” the bank unless it immediately reverses its policy of suspending reviews of mortgage relief requests in areas affected by Hurricane Sandy.
The San Francisco bank says the attorney general’s office has misinterpreted Wells’ stance and has reached out to Schneiderman to clarify.
Wells Fargo immediately put home preservation reviews and decisions on hold after the superstorm hit for a minimum of 90 days, until the bank could receive more information from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
Under new mortgage servicing standards as part of the $25 billion national settlement earlier this year, banks involved have 30 days to process relief requests. Schneiderman wrote that a policy of suspending reviews would likely put them in violation of the provision.
“Countless families in New York have suffered tremendously because of this natural disaster,” he wrote in a letter to Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf. “As we work to help those affected rebuild their lives, my office expects Wells Fargo’s full cooperation in ensuring that no additional and unwarranted damage is inflicted on those who were victims of this tragic event.”
But Wells Fargo also halted foreclosure sales, evictions and other foreclosure activity in the affected areas, the bank said. Wells has also waived late fees for credit card and loan payments for customers who were affected.
“This is something that appears to have been significantly misunderstood,” spokeswoman Vickee Adams said, adding that the delay gives homeowners a chance to communicate with insurers and inspectors. She said the bank would not change its policy.
Schneiderman has taken legal action or reached settlements with several financial companies in recent months, including filing a lawsuit last month against JPMorgan Chase alleging fraudulent disclosures on mortgage-backed securities.