State to review banks on Sandy services

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Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said, “We are investigating to determine if the complaints we have received are isolated incidents or part of a disturbing trend. Banks can’t just say they will help homeowners hurt by Sandy, they must deliver.”

In letters to the institutions, the Superintendent asked for information on the number of homeowners who asked for and received forbearance, lenders’ forbearance-related policies and practices, how the institutions implemented forbearances internally, and whether they would consider offering forgiveness of principal and interest payments for up to 12 months post-storm and under what circumstances.

In its survey, the Department is asking banks and mortgage servicers to provide information to the Department by March 12. The specific information the Department is seeking includes:

• How lenders changed their internal processes so that homeowners receiving forbearance would not receive erroneous customer statements or pre-foreclosure notices, and would not be reported as being late on payments to credit agencies.

• Whether the institutions provided a written description of forbearance terms to borrowers.

• Foreclosure and pre-foreclosure activity taken or suspended by the institutions during the forbearance period.

Homeowners participating in forbearance programs, as well as all other homeowners with banking or insurance questions related to the storm, are urged to visit a Disaster Assistance Center staffed by the Department or call the Department’s storm hotline. Assistance centers are listed on the Department’s website, The storm hotline, (800) 339-1759, is staffed from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., Monday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday.

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