February 6, 2019 / 6:14 PM / 7 months ago

PHH settles U.S. charges over military foreclosures

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice on Wednesday said PHH Mortgage Corp, a large residential mortgage servicer, will pay $750,000 to six military service members to resolve charges it illegally foreclosed on their homes.

PHH was accused of having obtained the foreclosures between Jan. 1, 2010 and April 4, 2012, without first obtaining the required court orders or valid waivers.

The Justice Department said this violated the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), which prohibits lenders from seizing or foreclosing on property of military personnel who are on active duty or recently completed it.

“Our men and women in uniform deserve to be able to focus on their job of keeping our country safe without worrying about losing their homes to an unlawful foreclosure,” Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband said in a statement.

PHH is based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey. It did not admit or deny wrongdoing, and said the settlement was in the best interest of the affected service members.

“We take our responsibilities to assist service members very seriously, and we regret whenever any customer experiences a hardship that could be avoided,” a PHH spokesman said.

PHH’s parent, PHH Corp, was bought in October by Ocwen Financial Corp for about $360 million.

Several other lenders have settled SCRA-related charges, in connection with the Justice Department’s Servicemembers and Veterans Initiative to protect the rights of current and former military personnel and their families.

In 2016 and 2017, Wells Fargo & Co agreed to pay $10.2 million to several hundred service members whose vehicles were unlawfully repossessed, the Justice Department has said.

Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Susan Thomas and Chris Reese

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