Consumer Fraud Law Applies to Bad Mortgage Loans

Many people associate consumer fraud laws with the sale of defective merchandise, or with home contractors who don’t finish their work. However, the reach of the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act is much broader.

For example, a New Jersey Superior Court judge has recently found that a mortgage lender was responsible under the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act. Why? Because the lender made a home loan to a 70-year-old woman it should have known could not make the required payments. The woman had been in the home for over 30 years. She now faces foreclosure.

The judge found the lender’s conduct, in not making a proper inquiry about the borrower’s ability to pay,  “unconscionable.” Under the law, the lender must now pay triple the damages suffered by the borrower. It must also pay the consumer’s legal fees and forfeit its mortgage fees and interest. Finally, the lender must refrain from foreclosing on the woman’s home for a year, to give her a chance to sell the house, or to find a refinance loan with another lender.

Bottom Line: If you’ve been victimized by someone in a commercial transaction of any kind, contact an attorney right away. There are deadlines to take action. You may have a right to compensation.