The New Jersey Office of the Attorney General and State Division of Consumer Affairs has filed administrative actions against 11 unlicensed businesses offering mortgage loan modification services for homeowners in dire financial straits. New Jersey state law requires that anyone providing these services in New Jersey be licensed as a Debt Adjuster by the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance, or be otherwise authorized. Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Thomas R. Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs, made the announcement as part of National Consumer Protection Week. The violations were filed as part of the Division’s ongoing initiative to crack down on those businesses operating outside the law. “When homeowners are desperate for help, struggling to pay their debts and keep their homes, they should be able to trust the businesses that offer to help. Because so much is at stake for the homeowner and the overall economy, the State will not tolerate unlicensed businesses that present themselves as legally authorized to offer mortgage modification services to individuals in great need,” said AG Dow. The Division of Consumer Affairs filed Notices of Violation against the businesses, which were found to be in violation of the Consumer Fraud Act’s Advertising Regulations. The businesses offered mortgage loan modification services even though they are not licensed to do so in New Jersey. The state is seeking $55,000 in civil penalties and $125,906.29 in consumer restitution from the businesses. The amounts sought in consumer restitution represent the fees paid by approximately 65 consumers for mortgage loan modification services. “When people fear losing their home, they are vulnerable to making desperate decisions that can put them in an even worse situation,” said Calcagni, Acting Director of the State Division of Consumer Affairs. “With this statewide initiative, we’re turning up the heat on those businesses that take advantage of homeowners in their hour of desperation. And we’re sending a clear message to all mortgage modification businesses in the state: You will comply with our laws.” The following is a list of the 11 businesses, and the amounts the State is seeking from each in civil penalties and consumer restitution: ►ASRC LLC, of Little Falls, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,000 in consumer restitution from this company. ►Creative Land Marketing Corporation, d/b/a CLM Corporation Home Mitigation Advisors, d/b/a Express Debt 411, d/b/a Home Mitigation Adv., d/b/a Express Home 411, of New Brunswick, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,250 in consumer restitution. ►Excel Loan Modifications of Cherry Hill, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,059.01 in consumer restitution. ►Homeowners First Financial LLC, of Parsippany, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $2,200 in consumer restitution. ►Hope Loan Today of Robbinsville, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $14,000 in consumer restitution. ►Integrity Plus Financial LLC of Berlin, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $3,000 in consumer restitution. ►Loan Modification Firm LLC of Union City, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,500 in consumer restitution. ►Mortgage Foreclosure Experts LLC of Mt. Laurel, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $9,917.28 in consumer restitution. ►Mortgage Solutions for America LLC of Gibbsboro, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $1,251 in consumer restitution. ►National Foreclosure Group d/b/a/ Hope 4 Solutions LLC of Woodbury, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $88,479 in consumer restitution. ►Spiros Chartofillis of Nutley, N.J.: The state is seeking a $5,000 civil penalty and $2,250 in consumer restitution. A mortgage loan modification involves changing the terms of an existing loan—for example, by lowering the monthly payments, adjusting the interest rate, extending the length of the loan, or in some cases decreasing the unpaid balance. The only types of business that can engage in mortgage loan modification services in New Jersey are: ►Non-profit organizations licensed as Debt Adjusters by the State Department of Banking and Insurance; ►The lender or owner of the loan; ►The mortgage servicer acting on the lender or owner’s behalf; or ►An attorney, provided he or she is not primarily engaged in debt adjustment.