Article Courtesy of The Palm
By Kimberly Miller
Published August 20, 2014
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered online lender Amerisave Mortgage Corporation to pay $14.8 million in refunds to homeowners and a $4.5 million fine for luring in borrowers with misleading rates.
Amerisave owner, Patrick Markert, will pay an additional $1.5 million.
According to the bureau, the Atlanta-based Amerisave advertised inaccurate interest rates and terms online between mid-2011 and 2014, inducing consumers to pursue a mortgage with the firm.
Tens of thousands of consumers were attracted to take out loans based on the deceptive terms, the bureau said.
“Amerisave lured consumers in with deceptive advertising, trapped them with costly upfront fees, and then illegally overcharged them for services form an undisclosed affiliate,” said Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray. “By the time consumers could have discovered the advertised low rates were too good to be true, they had already committed to pay hundreds of dollars to Amerisave.”
Amerisave gave consumers quotes based on an 800 FICO score, even where consumers had previously entered a FICO score below 800. The firm also required consumers to order and give payment authorization for an appraisal before it would provide a Good Faith Estimate for the mortgage, and did not tell consumers until later that the appraisal orders were being referred to its own affiliated company.