Homestead Protection Services, LLC, Orlando, Florida, a foreclosure rescue company, has reached a settlement with Attorney General Bill McCollum. According to the settlement, Homestead agreed to dissolve the company and refrain from any future violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. The company must also pay $20,000 in consumer restitution and must reimburse the state $5,000 for fees and costs of the investigation.
An investigation conducted by members of the Attorney General’s Economic Crimes Division, as part of the Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force, found that Homestead Protection Services charged consumers up-front fees of $997 to $3,500 for foreclosure “rescue” services. The investigation determined that disclosures regarding refunds and performance expectations were unclear and misleading to consumers. Consumers also complained they did not receive the foreclosure services expected and that in some instances, refunds were denied.
The Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act, which became law on October 1, 2008, prevents companies from accepting fees for foreclosure rescue services or loan modification services related to foreclosure prior to such services being rendered. The statute was enacted to protect consumers who are in foreclosure or nearing foreclosure from being victimized by potentially deceptive business practices. The Attorney General’s Office currently has over 40 open investigations into this particular type of fraud and continues to receive complaints on a daily basis. Consumers who wish to file a complaint may do so online at http://myfloridalegal.com or by calling the Attorney General’s fraud hotline at 1-866-966-7226.