Madigan discusses foreclosure scams
CHAMPAIGN — Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan was at the Champaign Public Library on Wednesday to brief community and elected officials that "free, legitimate" relief is available to homeowners dealing with foreclosure proceedings.
Madigan said predators are constantly targeting homeowners who are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure, and those predators only make matters much worse for homeowners.
In a roundtable session, Madigan addressed a few dozen area officials on "everything from general consumer fraud issues to ensuring that people know there are free, legitimate programs out there to help them save their homes if they are in foreclosure or facing foreclosure."
The idea, she said, is that local representatives can disseminate that information to the people they know — hopefully getting the word out that homeowners in trouble should be wary of predators.
She said more than 200,000 people have contacted her office on general consumer fraud issues, and about 60,000 of those dealt with foreclosure issues "in the last several years when the mortgage crisis became the foreclosure crisis."
She said since foreclosures spiked, there have been 26,000 documented cases of fraud. Predators get public foreclosure records when they are filed in court, she said, and they will call, email and visit homeowners, offering assurances that they can help save their homes.
But they will ask for money up front.
"They end up taking that money," Madigan said. "They never contact your bank, they never get you any sort of modification. You then end up in a situation where you've lost $1,000 to $5,000, you've lost many months, and you're going to be much closer to losing your home."
Champaign City Council member Will Kyles said he does not necessarily think that kind of fraud is a particular problem in Champaign, but he attended the session to learn more about it in hopes of informing residents in his district about free relief available from the state and federal governments.
Madigan, who last month announced she would not run for governor, addressed a separate state issue during a briefing with the media. She expects a battle over pension reform and state legislators' pay will last months.
Madigan's office will represent the state in a lawsuit leveled by her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan, and Senate President John Cullerton against the state asking that a court restore their paychecks.
In a unique move last month, Gov. Pat Quinn zeroed the budget for legislators' paychecks until they act on pension reform. In his 2014 bid for re-election, Quinn is facing a Democratic primary challenge from former White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley.
Madigan expects the legal proceedings on lawmakers' paychecks to drag out for some time. The first hearing on the lawsuit convened Tuesday in Cook County, and oral arguments in the case have been set for Sept. 18.
"It would not surprise me if we see whatever ruling is made in the case, that that will be appealed," Madigan said.
Lawmakers will miss at least one paycheck — their next scheduled payday is Sept. 1. Madigan expects the Illinois Supreme Court will make the ultimate decision.
"It could be several months," Madigan said.