Montana Department of Justice

On February 9, 2012, the Montana Attorney General’s Office joined a landmark agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers that provides help for struggling homeowners and requires national standards to protect consumers from the abuses of these five large banks.


The settlement stems from a national investigation of the five biggest banks and the discovery that these institutions routinely violated state and federal laws by signing foreclosure documents outside the presence of a notary public – a practice commonly called “robo-signing” – and without knowing if the facts contained in the documents were even correct.

File a Complaint with the Office of Consumer Protection  If you believe you have been the victim of consumer fraud regarding your mortgage, please file a complaint with our office. Our online complaint form is the quickest, easiest way to start this process.

Under the agreement, the five banks – Bank of America, Citibank, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and GMAC – have agreed to a $25 billion package of benefits for homeowners and payments to the states. The settlement also provides benefits to borrowers whose loans are owned by the settling banks, as well as to many borrowers whose loans they service.  It also provides modest payments to those who were foreclosed upon from 2008-2011.

Montana’s share of the settlement includes the following:
  • Qualifying Montana borrowers may receive help from a “menu” of benefits, including principal reductions, deficiency waivers, and short sales.
  • The State has received a direct payment of around $5.8 million.  Almost all of this money is dedicated for use on direct services and staff in the Attorney General’s office and its nonprofit foreclosure mitigation and housing counseling partners. Our partners include NeighborWorks Montana and the Montana Legal Services Association. Staff with these organizations provide foreclosure counseling and direct legal services.
  • Montana homeowners who are not in default, but “underwater” on their home loans may be eligible for over $4.5 million in available funds specifically for refinancing these underwater loans. “Underwater” means a person owes more on their mortgage than their home is currently worth.
  • Montana borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure by one of the five settling banks between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 are eligible for direct cash payments from a pool of $2 million.
What This Means For You  If you are facing foreclosure or struggling to make your house payments – and you have a mortgage serviced by the banks involved in this agreement – you may qualify for help. The Keep My Montana Home program was established to provide a variety of benefits for struggling homeowners. Such benefits could include lowering the principal of their home loan, known as a “principal reduction.”  Others may qualify to re-finance their mortgage at a lower interest rate to bring down their monthly payment. To qualify for that benefit, a homeowner must be current on their payments — and underwater on their home loan. To inquire about this program, call 1-800-481-6896 or contact
Duncan Adams
Home Foreclosure Specialist
The Keep My Montana Home Program
Ph: (406) 444-2556
E-mail: focusonforeclosure@mt.gov


The unprecedented joint state-federal settlement is the result of a massive civil law enforcement initiative that includes state attorneys general, state banking regulators across the country and nearly a dozen federal agencies. The settlement holds banks accountable for past mortgage servicing and foreclosure fraud and abuses, and provides relief to homeowners. With the backing of a federal court order and the oversight of an independent monitor, the settlement stops future fraud and abuse.

The settlement does not grant any immunity from criminal offenses and will not affect criminal prosecutions. The agreement does not prevent homeowners or investors from pursuing individual, institutional or class action civil cases against the five banks. The pact also enables state attorneys general and federal agencies to investigate and pursue other aspects of the mortgage crisis, including securities cases.

Unfortunately, homeowners in desperate situations have been seen as easy targets by scammers who take advantage of people when they are vulnerable. Be wary of any unsolicited offers of assistance or advertisements—even if they look official. When in doubt, do your research or call our office.

Information on foreclosure rescue scams and mortgage fraud:

As disrupting as the foreclosure crisis has been in Montana, the problem was much worse in other parts of the country. The national totals of what the large banks are paying through the settlement reflect the depth of the crisis. Nationally:

  • Servicers will pay a minimum of $17 billion directly to borrowers through a series of national homeowner relief effort options, including principal reduction. Given how the settlement is structured, up to $32 billion dollars in homeowner relief will be realized nationally.
  • Servicers will pay a total of $3 billion to a mortgage refinancing program for borrowers who are current, but who owe more than their home is currently worth.
  • Servicers will pay $5 billion to the states and federal government ($4.25 billion to the states and $750 million to the federal government).
  • Homeowners will receive comprehensive protections under new mortgage loan servicing and foreclosure standards.  These standards are comprehensive and include a required single point of contact for homeowners, adequate staffing levels and training, effective communication with homeowners, higher standards for the execution of documents in foreclosure cases, an end to improper fees, and significant controls over the confusing “dual track” process where homeowners find themselves in the modification application process and foreclosure at the same time.
  • An independent monitor will ensure mortgage servicer compliance.

The final agreement will be filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.  The agreement will be enforceable as a court order.

For more information on the Internet go to:

http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com/

http://www.hud.gov/, or http://www.justice.gov/.

Additionally, the Center for Responsible Lending has produced two informative reports on the settlement. A summary of the settlement is here. A booklet aimed at helping citizens determine if they may be eligible for relief under the settlement is here.


How a foreclosure proceeds depends on the state laws where a home is located. Montana is a “non-judicial” foreclosure state. This means that, generally, Montana law allows a foreclosure to occur without a lender taking a homeowner to court. Instead, the lender or its agent (usually called a “Trustee”) can follow procedures set out in Montana law to foreclose on a property. However, under certain circumstances, homeowners may be able to file a court case to stop a wrongful foreclosure.

Other links that may be of help:

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Attorney General's Office & Legal Services Division

The Attorney General’s Office, headed by Attorney General Tim Fox, and the Legal Services Division function as the lawyers for the State of Montana. The attorneys in the Office have expertise in a wide range of legal topics and handle a broad range of legal cases involving the State of Montana and its people.

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Central Services Division

The Montana Department of Justice’s Central Services Division provides financial and human resources support for the department. We make sure that everything works for the people Working for Justice. If you’re interested in a rewarding career helping protect the rights and safety of all Montanans, we invite you to join our team of over 800 dedicated employees working across the state.

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Children’s Justice Bureau

The Children’s Justice Bureau is an agency-wide initiative at the Montana Department of Justice dedicated to IMPROVING how we respond to child victims, DEVELOPING state-of-the-art approaches by keeping up with the newest research and, most importantly, HELPING child victims recover and move on with their lives.

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Division of Criminal Investigation

The Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) at the Montana Department of Justice is involved in many aspects of Montana law enforcement and is integral to the Department dciof Justice’s mission of promoting public safety.

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Forensic Science Division & State Crime Lab

The mission of the Montana Forensic Science Division is to use operationally efficient and financially responsible practices as the laboratory provides accurate, objective, and timely forensic analyses to the criminal justice community in order to maximize value to the citizens of Montana.

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Gambling Control Division

Through the Gambling Control Division, the Department of Justice regulates all forms of gambling in Montana, except for the Montana Lottery and horse racing. The legislature has charged the division with maintaining a uniform regulatory climate that is fair and free of corrupt influences. The division is also responsible for collecting gambling revenue for state and local governments.

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Justice Information Technology Services Division

Our Justice Information Technology Services Division (JITSD) provides vital Information Technology (IT) infrastructure upon which Montanans and lojitsdcal and state law enforcement agencies rely for timely, accurate information. JITSD manages the IT systems, services, and interfaces to support nearly 800 DOJ employees, 325 statewide county motor vehicle system users, and over 3,000 Criminal Justice Information Network (CJIN) users across the state.

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Montana Highway Patrol

Montana is rich in natural beauty and history. From Glacier Park in the west to Makoshika Park in the east, the men and women of the Montana Highway Patrol are working hard to make your travels safe and enjoyable. The Highway Patrol’s core values are “Service, Integrity and Respect.” These values are reflected in our commitment to public safety through diligent and fair enforcement of our traffic codes.

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Missing Persons Clearinghouse

The Missing Children Act of 1985 established a Montana Missing Persons Clearinghouse within the Department of Justice. In March 2008, the department implemented a searchable online database that, for the first time, is updated in real time and includes any photos provided by law enforcement.

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Montana Law Enforcement Academy

The Montana Law Enforcement Academy is the premier law enforcement and public safety educational and training institution for state, county, city and tribal officers throughout the state. The Academy offers entry-level programs referred to as Basic Programs and advanced training through an array of Professional Development Programs.

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Motor Vehicle Division

The mission of the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) is to identify and promote efficient, cost-effective programs that benefit the interests, safety, and well-being of Montana citizens through licensing, registering, and regulating the motoring activities of the public. The MVD continuously strives for excellence in customer service. Streamlining the way we do business has allowed us to improve our efficiency and make our services more convenient for our customers.

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Natural Resource Damage Program

The Natural Resource Damage Program (NRDP) was created in 1990 to prepare the state’s lawsuit against the Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) for injuries to the natural resources in the Upper Clark Fork River Basin (UCFRB). Decades of mining and mineral processing operations in and around Butte and Anaconda released substantial quantities of hazardous substances into the Upper Clark Fork River Basin between Butte and Milltown. These hazardous substances extensively degraded the area’s natural resources.

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Public Safety Officer Standards & Training

The Council was formed in 2007 under 2-15-2029, MCA as an independent Quasi-judicial board. And as allowed by statute the Council adopted Administrative Rules in order to implement the provisions of Title 44, chapter 4, part 4, MCA. Per 44-4-403, MCA the Council is required to set employment and training standards for all Public Safety Officers as defined in 44-4-401, MCA and in addition the Council shall provide for the certification or recertification of public safety officers and for the suspension or revocation of certification of public safety officers.

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Office of Consumer Protection

Enforce consumer laws designed to protect the consumer from unfair or deceptive business practices. Enforce statutes relating to telephone solicitation and telemarketing. Provide information to consumers about their basic rights under consumer laws. Assist consumers by distributing consumer education materials including scam and consumer alerts. Investigate false, misleading, or deceptive trade practices.

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Office of Victim Services

The goal of the Office of Victim Services is to provide tools and information to help crime victims recover from their experience and provide them with a range of services available. The criminal justice system can be confusing and intimidating for victims. To assist them as they go through the justice system, the Office of Victim Service is available to answer any questions they may have.

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Human Trafficking

The Montana Department of Justice has a continued commitment to victims of human trafficking. In partnership with federal authorities, our agency plays a key role in the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of crimes related to human trafficking in Montana. This form of modern day slavery does happen here in Big Sky Country.

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Prescription Drug Abuse Awareness Program

Montana’s deadliest drugs aren’t made in secret labs and they don’t always come from dealers on the corner. They’re in our own medicine cabinets. Each year, prescription drug abuse contributes to the deaths of more than 300 Montanans — making prescription drug abuse 15 times more deadly than meth, heroin and cocaine combined. Our kids report the third-highest rate of prescription drug abuse in the country and more than half of them say prescription drugs are easier to get than street drugs.

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Safe in Your Space

When it comes to embracing new technology, kids have rapidly outpaced their parents and teachers. By their early school years, many children are already more comfortable on the Internet than their parents. But just because children are smart enough to know how to navigate the Internet, doesn’t mean they have the experience to make good decisions about some of the possibilities they may face online.

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Montana Sexual or Violent Offender Registry

Created by the Montana Department of Justice in 1989, the Sexual or Violent Offender Registry is a valuable resource for Montanans to protect their families against sexual or violent offenders.

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Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

Drinking and driving has been a chronic – and deadly — problem on Montana’s roadways for decades. In 2008, Montana was ranked as the deadliest state in the nation when it came to per capita DUI-related traffic fatalities.

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Work for Justice

Everyday at The Montana Department of Justice, our employees are dedicated to ensuring the well-being and rights of the people of our great state. We’re passionate about what we do because it’s more than a job or a career. It’s about who we are as people. If this sounds like you, your unique experiences, knowledge, and values may be just what the Montana Department of Justice is looking for and needs. In return we can offer a culture that promotes fairness and growth opportunities.

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