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Notary Bulletin

Ocwen Financial Robo-Signing Settlement Is Finalized

New RoboOcwen Financial Corporation, the nation’s largest non-bank mortgage servicing company, has agreed to substantial mandates involving the notarization of foreclosure-related documents as part of a $2.1 billion robo-signing” settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and 49 state Attorneys General.

Under the terms of the settlement, finalized late last month, requires Ocwen and its subsidiary, Ocwen Loan Servicing to end the “systemic misconduct,” including widespread, improper notarization and other document processing practices commonly known as “robo-signing.” Among other things, Ocwen has agreed to:

  • Make sure that all affidavits, sworn statements and declarations, including their notarization, comply with all applicable state law;
  • Keep a record of all notarizations for each Notary employee;
  • Review the affidavits, sworn statements and declarations executed by third-party contractors to make sure they comply with all applicable state law;
  • Create standards for the qualifications, training and supervision of its employees who prepare or execute affidavits, sworn statements and declarations; and
  • Ensure that those employees meet the standards and are properly trained and supervised.

The “robo-signing” crisis, which broke in late 2010, revolved around the flood of foreclosures that were being filed by major loan servicing companies at the time. It stemmed from massive abuses of notarization, including failure to require personal appearance, failure to properly identify signers, forged signatures and misuse of Notary seals by non-Notaries, among other violations.

In early 2012, federal and state regulators entered into an unprecedented $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement with five of the nation’s largest servicers.

Ocwen is the sixth company to join the settlement. According to the CFPB, 185,000 consumers lost their homes between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2012, to Ocwen foreclosure actions.

The Ocwen settlement is even more important in light of moves by the company to substantially grow its loan servicing business. In the past several years, the form has bought servicing portfolios from a number of major financial institutions, including participants in the National Mortgage Settlement.

But the Ocwen settlement put the brakes on a deal to acquire servicing rights to $39 billion in loans from Wells Fargo. Regulators were concerned about the company’s ability to handle such an influx of loans given the misconduct catalogued in the settlement.

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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