Pappas Says Mortgage Companies Try to Frighten Homeowners into Sending Bills to Them


With Misleading Claim About $5 fee Companies Should Pay

CHICAGO, Nov. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Mortgage companies must pay property taxes out of escrow accounts on time whether or not they have the original bill, Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas said today.

Pappas said some mortgage companies are trying to get homeowners to send them bills which her office mailed to the owners. The companies are trying to avoid paying a $5 electronic duplicate-bill fee imposed by a recently enacted Cook County ordinance, she said.

“The companies are suggesting that if property owners do not send them their bill, the companies may not be able to pay their taxes on time and the owners then might face late-payment penalties,” Pappas said. “This is misleading.”

Federal law holds mortgage lenders — not homeowners — responsible for late penalties made from escrow accounts.

Pappas gave this sequence of events:

— In October, the County Board approved a $5 electronic duplicate-bill fee.

— At the beginning of November, Pappas’ office mailed bills for the second installment of tax year 2006 with a Dec. 3 due date.

— Almost immediately, mortgage companies mailed letters to their escrow clients requesting the bills.

Since 2003, mortgage companies have made more than 600,000 electronic payments per installment to the Treasurer’s Office without bills, Pappas said.

“The mortgage companies know that they still can make electronic payments without an original bill,” Pappas said.

SOURCE Cook County Treasurer's Office

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