DES MOINES -- Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has broken first in 2008 on the subprime mortgage issue with laws aimed at protecting homebuyers from fraud.
Miller announced recently he had proposed to the Iowa legislature a package of bills that would place more responsibility on brokers and allow Iowans to sue "fraudulent" mortage lenders under the state's Consumer Fraud Act.
It would also add $5 from every mortgage filed in Iowa to an AG-run Homeowners Consumer Protection Fund, which Miller's office would spend on anti-fraud measures in Iowa's mortgage market. "The need for these additional funds is clear, given the amount of fraud that has been present in the mortgage lending area in the past couple of years," Miller's release stated.
Miller said the bills proposed in his package would "enhance the ability of [my] office, and the ability of consumers themselves, to deter fraud in connection with home mortgage lending."
As well as establishing Miller's fund, the bills would force mortgage brokers in Iowa to face a clear duty of agency to the borrower rather than the brokerage. Others would also crack down on so-called foreclosure-rescue "scamming," which targets mortgage-holders in default.
Fellow-Democrat state AGs Lisa Madigan of Illinois and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut have both recently sued mortgage brokers for some of the offenses Miller's laws are aimed at, LNL reported. Madigan is also pursuing stricter mortgage-industry crackdown powers for her office.