NMP - August 2017 - 36

Whistleblowing: Part II
By Andy W. Harris, CRMS

AUGUST 2017 n National Mortgage Professional Magazine n

NationalMortgageProfessional.com

36
few months ago,
we discussed
whistleblowing with
the Consumer
Financial Protection
Bureau (CFPB) and
the pros and cons that can arise
if the industry gets proactive
about reporting bad or
consumer-harming behavior to
regulators. We all have stories
and know of the greedy issues
our industry is faced with when it
comes to illegal and unethical
relationships, kick-backs,
steering, etc. After the last
article, I was contacted by a
fellow colleague and thought I
would share the stories they
offered as it relates to this
subject.
This person investigated filing
a complaint on a local competitor
relating to Section 8 of the Real
Estate Settlement and
Procedures Act (RESPA) and the
violations we all commonly see.
These range from paying
marketing and advertising
expenses of the referral partner
hidden as a Marketing Service
Agreement (MSA), desk rentals
four times the market rent, Web
site design, and actual cash
among other creative methods to
steer business. Their market, as

A

many are, are getting even more
aggressive with a purchasedriven, higher-rate climate to try
to buy business with refinances
drying up.
He was told by the CFPB that
if the allegations were eventually
proven, his name would be
released during the investigation.
I found that concerning as I've
heard directly from the Bureau
that you can certainly provide
anonymous tips in many
meetings and they have
encouraged it. Upon hearing this
news, I tried to reach out to the
CFPB for comment and
feedback, but I was unable to get
a live person on the phone
through their Whistleblower
Hotline at (855) 695-7974. From
listening to the message, they
also commented that an
anonymous tip is possible, but
highly encouraged that you leave
your contact information as it
helps in the investigation.
The concern here is that it is
challenging to report valid issues
without feeling at-risk for
potential involvement, litigation
or questioning yourself. This is a
problem. Sending an e-mail to
Whistleblower@CFPB.gov
certainly would not be
anonymous unless you were

creative from the I.P. Address
and e-mail used for sending, but
that seems ridiculous that you
cannot potentially keep your
information confidential and
private for reporting activity that
may clearly harm the consumer.
You can possibly block your
number and leave a message on
the hotline, but is this really
necessary and would it hold less
weight to the allegation for them
to research without validating the
source?
The same colleague mentioned
a recent story where he and one
of his LOs met with the owner
and manager of a newer real
estate office in their market. At
the end of the meeting, the LO
asked how they could develop a
better relationship and suggested
training, education, etc. The
manager looked right at them
and said, "We are a 'pay to play'
office. The mortgage companies
we refer either pay for our
advertising or buy the leads for
our agents." Listen, this needs to

stop and we need these people
accountable for their actions and
words that harm the clients they
are meant to serve and protect.
Enough is enough, we all have
way too many stories, and while
the CFPB may not have the
manpower, anonymous tips
should be open and available
without recourse to at least
investigate or confirm if a valid
concern.
Have any of you ever filed a
complaint or blown the whistle?
Was it truly anonymous? Was it
investigated? What was the
outcome? Please, let us know!
Are you an originator? Send
your stories! To have topics
considered in future editions,
please e-mail me with
"OrigiNation" in the Subject Line
at
AHarris@VantageMortgageGroup.
com. These can be confidential
or your name and company can
be referenced if you wish. You
can also join the Facebook Group
by searching for "OrigiNation."

Andy W. Harris, CRMS is president and owner of Lake
Oswego, Ore.-based Vantage Mortgage Group Inc. and past
president of the Oregon Association of Mortgage
Professionals. He may be reached by phone at (877) 4960431, e-mail AHarris@VantageMortgageGroup.com or visit
VantageMortgageGroup.com.


http://www.VantageMortgageGroup.com

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