Fla. AG files suit against financial services firm

Keith Loria Dec. 10, 2010, 9:45am


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum's office has filed a lawsuit against a financial service company that allegedly deceived consumers through false advertising.

Colorado-based Assurity Financial Services allegedly used misleading advertisements that falsely claimed it was affiliated with the U.S. Veterans Administration, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and homeowners' lenders.

The company allegedly used these deceptive practices in refunds for insurance premiums, escrow accounts and other funding sources.

McCollum alleges that numerous mailers from the company solicited consumers in several states to apply for refunds for their mortgage insurance premiums, escrow accounts, Veterans Administration escrow accounts and funding fees.

The mailers appeared to be sent from the federal government and included a Washington, D.C., return address to further add to the deception. The ads allegedly led consumers to believe that Assurity had the authority to secure refunds for consumers.

Other mailings, the lawsuit alleges, appeared to come from the homeowners' lenders.

In July 2009, Assurity Financial Services entered into a legally binding agreement with the states of Florida and Colorado, agreeing to stop its deceptive direct mailings. At the time, it also agreed to pay the states $200,000 over the course of six payments. It failed to make its scheduled payment on July 1, 2010.

Because it violated its agreement, Colorado Attorney General John Suthers also filed a lawsuit against the company and managing partners Clavin B. Hamler and Troy P. Hamler.

Assurity Financial Services and the Hamlers also allegedly sent postcards to homeowners telling them their home loans could be classified into more favorable loans without clearly disclosing that the defendants were asking homeowners to refinance their homes through the company.

The company allegedly offered a false impression of urgency to scare the homeowners and sometimes informed homeowners they were in default, even though this was not true.

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