WASHINGTON (AP) — Ocwen Financial Corp. will reduce struggling borrowers' loan balances by $2 billion in an agreement with federal regulators and 49 states over foreclosure abuses.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and state attorneys general announced the deal Thursday with the Atlanta-based company, one of the largest U.S. mortgage servicers. The regulators said Ocwen pushed borrowers into foreclosure through illegal actions, such as failing to promptly and accurately credit mortgage payments.
The company also miscalculated interest rates and charged borrowers improper fees, the regulators said.
"We believe that Ocwen violated federal consumer financial laws at every stage of the mortgage servicing process," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said in a conference call with reporters. "We have concluded that Ocwen made troubled borrowers even more vulnerable to foreclosure."
Under the agreement, Ocwen also will refund a combined $125 million to about 185,000 borrowers who had been foreclosed upon from 2009 through 2012. It also agreed to change the way it manages mortgages. The company must stop "robo-signing" of documents, the practice of automatically signing off on foreclosures without a proper review.
The agreement must be approved by a federal court in Washington.
Ocwen said in a statement it was pleased to have reached the settlement.
The agreement "is in alignment with the same ultimate goals that we share with the regulators — to prevent foreclosures and help struggling families keep their homes," the company said.