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Settlement Monitor Launches New Online Complaint Tool

Consumer advocates now have the ability to report violations if their clients suspect any as the nation's five largest servicers complete requirements under the $25 billion settlement.

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Speaking at a conference hosted by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Joseph A. Smith, Jr., the settlement monitor, announced the standup of a website portal for complaints about servicers.

""This allows me, as Monitor, to hear complaints and learn more about advocates' impressions of how the settlement is working,"" he said in a statement. ""Although I'll extensively review reports and monitoring from the banks and my own team of auditors, it is still critical for me to receive information from the heart of each community this settlement serves.""

Although the court order and settlement that made Smith responsible as monitor does not charge him with responsibility for consumer complaints, the statement said that he will use any

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information gathered from the online tool to oversee implementation of the agreement.

His office, the ""Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight"":http://www.mortgageoversight.com/ (OMSO), directed the public to report complaints by visiting ""this website"":http://www.mortgageoversight.com/report-client-issues/ and filling out information about themselves or their clients there. The form will cover more than 200 servicing standards mandated by the agreement.

""I believe that the settlement will bring relief to distressed borrowers and help communities across the country,"" Smith added. ""To do so, we need to be certain that the agreement's servicing standards are being adhered to, and professionals who fill out this form will help inform me of any recurring issues that need to be addressed. I appreciate all who participate, as they will help ensure that this settlement makes a difference in mortgage servicing standards for all borrowers.""

The launch of an online tool appears as he stands up his office and outlines the way he will monitor the settlement.

In a past interview with _DS News_, our sister publication, the settlement monitor said that OMSO would roll out reporting requirements in the first three months of operation. He said that he would continue to engage in preparatory meetings with servicers as the settlement moved forward.

And if the servicers ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô including Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, Chase, and Wells Fargo ├â┬ó├óÔÇÜ┬¼├óÔé¼┼ô fail to comply?

""I'll have plenty of backup from the [state attorneys general],"" Smith told us, signaling that he and other officials would take servicers to court to pursue injunctive relief.

_Editor's note: To view the full, exclusive interview with Joe Smith, subscribe to_ DS News _today and request the May issue._

About Author: Ryan Schuette

Ryan Schuette is a journalist, cartoonist, and social entrepreneur with several years of experience in real-estate news, international reporting, and business management. He currently lives in the Washington, D.C., area, where he freelances for DS News and MReport.
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