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California, Feds Focus On Halting 'Robo-Signing' Practices

California Attorney General Kamala Harris has announced legislation — dubbed the “California Homeowner Bill of Rights” — that would protect homeowners against illegal foreclosure acts and predatory lending. If the package becomes law, all lenders who do business in the state would have to meet a set of specific requirements before instituting a foreclosure process or face legal action and fines that could overturn the foreclosure.

The legislation is designed to strengthen loan servicing reforms mandated by theNational Mortgage Settlement in the Golden State at a time when financial institutions across the nation are working to correct “robo-signing” issues.

The package includes a provision that would impose a $10,000 civil penalty for recording or filing “robo-signed” documents that contain improperly-performed or illegal notarizations. Additionally, the “bill of rights” codifies the agreements that were put into place in the national settlement, and expands them to all mortgage servicers operating in California.

On the national level, nine major financial institutions are working to comply with mandates made by the Federal Reserve Board to correct “robo-signing” issues, which included improper notarial and other document-processing practices. The financial institutions have issued preliminary action plans in response to reports issued by the Fed and two other bank regulators which revealed that “the majority of (mortgage) servicers had improper Notary practices that failed to conform to state legal requirements.”

Michael Lewis is Managing Editor at the National Notary Association.

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