The nation’s 14 largest mortgage firms must compensate wronged homeowners after federal bank regulators determined the companies broke federal and state laws by improperly foreclosing on an incalculable number of distressed borrowers. The agencies announced such penalties Wednesday, the first in what is likely to be a series of enforcement actions targeting the country’s biggest banks and costing them billions.
Lenders like Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Ally Financial systematically broke rules and took shortcuts when foreclosing on homeowners last year, the regulators said. Their three-month review launched after documents and videos of so-called robo-signers — people who signed thousands of foreclosure documents a day without reading them or knowing what was in them — surfaced, leading the biggest banks to halt home seizures.
Bank examiners found the firms employed practices that “failed to conform to state legal requirements.” In other words, they broke the law.