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State probe uncovers foreclosure violations


Some of the foreclosure trustees most active in Washington are violating a requirement they have an office in the state, Attorney General Rob McKenna said Wednesday.

His office has been mailing reminders to the trustees, whose offices must be staffed by someone knowledgeable about Washington law. The offices must also have a local phone number.

“Foreclosures run on strict timelines and homeowners need a human who they can talk with face-to-face when there’s a problem,” McKenna said. “We expect all trustees to comply with this requirement, and to not issue notices of foreclosure or conduct foreclosure sales unless the trustee itself, and not an agent, maintains the required physical presence and phone line in Washington.”

He said the potential violations turned up during a multi-state investigation into the mortgage servicing industry, which consumer advocates allege has fudged paperwork and forged signatures.

“This involves some of the same shortcuts,” said Assistant Attorney General Jim Sugarman, who has been handling the Washington investigations.

Most of the 52 mortgage trustees operating in Washington are based out-of-state.

Sugarman said about a half-dozen, whom he declined to name, do not have in-state offices.

He said responses are expected from the trustees by the end of April. The state could ask the courts to block further foreclosures by violators until they comply with the law, he said.

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