Bryan Cohen Sep. 11, 2013, 7:20pm

CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Safeguard Properties LLC for allegedly engaging in illegal eviction practices against struggling Illinois homeowners.

Safeguard, a Delaware corporation based in Ohio, is a company hired by mortgage lenders to find out if a home in default or foreclosure is still occupied. If a home is determined to be vacant, Safeguard secures and maintains the property to make sure it does not lose value during the foreclosure process.

Safeguard allegedly deemed occupied Illinois properties as vacant on a routine basis. The company allegedly instructed its contractors to winterize and secure homes that occupants still had a legal right to live in. In some alleged instances, Safeguard's contractors broke into homes, changed the locks, turned off utilities and removed the personal possessions of occupants even though the homes were still occupied.

"This case shows the lengths that banks and their service providers will go to abuse and intimidate borrowers in foreclosure," Madigan said. "This company was illegally breaking in to people's homes, removing all their possessions and locking them out. It is a homeowner's worst nightmare."

Tenants and homeowners have a legal right to occupy a home until the foreclosure process is completed.

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