Understand what you need to do to stay compliant with the law.
REST Report requires all companies that we work with to be compliant with the rules and regulations as set forth by the government. We have assembled this page so that you can see exactly what the rules and regulations are. We require that all companies comply with the following.
Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS)
The Federal Trade Commission has issued a ruling to protect struggling home owners from mortgage relieve scams.
Home owners are protected by the rule since it bans providers of mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification services from collecting advance fees. In addition, the rule requires clear disclosures and also outlaws false advertising claims.
Download this document
The complete text of the ruling can be accessed here.
Advance fee ban
The most significant consumer protection under the FTC's rule is the advance fee ban. Under this provision, mortgage relief companies may not collect any fees until they have provided the consumer with a written offer from their lender or servicer that the consumer decides is acceptable. A written document from the lender or servicer is also required describing the key changes to the mortgage that would result if the consumer accepts the offer. The mortgage relief company must also remind the consumer of their right to reject the offer without any charge.
The Rule requires mortgage relief companies to disclose key information to consumers to protect them from being misled and to help them make better informed purchasing decisions. In their advertising, and in communications directed at individual consumers, the companies must disclose that:
- they are not associated with the government, and their services have not been approved by the government or the consumer's lender;
- the lender may not agree to change the consumer's loan; and
- if companies tell consumers to stop paying their mortgage, they must also tell them that they could lose their home and damage their credit rating.
Companies also must explain in their communications to consumers that they can stop doing business with the company at any time, can accept or reject any offer the company obtains from the lender or servicer, and, if the consumer rejects the offer, they don't have to pay the company's fee. The companies also must disclose the amount of the fee.
The MARS Rule prohibits mortgage relief companies from making any false or misleading claims about their services, including claims about:
- the likelihood of consumers getting the results they seek;
- the company’s affiliation with government or private entities;
- the consumer’s payment and other mortgage obligations;
- the company’s refund and cancellation policies;
- whether the company has performed the services it promised;
- whether the company will provide legal representation to consumers;
- the availability or cost of any alternative to for-profit mortgage assistance relief services;
- the amount of money a consumer will save by using their services; or
- the cost of the services.
In addition, the rule bars mortgage relief companies from telling consumers to stop communicating with their lenders or servicers. Companies also must have reliable evidence to back up any claims they make about the benefits, performance, or effectiveness of the services they provide.
Attorneys are generally exempt from the rule if they meet three conditions: they are engaged in the practice of law, they are licensed in the state where the consumer or the dwelling is located, and they are complying with state laws and regulations governing attorney conduct related to the rule. To be exempt from the advance fee ban, attorneys must meet a fourth requirement - they must place any fees they collect in a client trust account and abide by state laws and regulations covering such accounts.