Freedom Mortgage Corp., based in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, agreed to pay $1.75 million to settle accusations that it intentionally reported inaccurate information about the race, sex, and ethnicity of loan applicants, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau stated Wednesday, with the release of a consent order.
The findings cited Freedom with instructing its loan officers to enter information that consumers had failed to provide on applications. When applicants did not provide a race and ethnicity, loan officers were told to select “non-Hispanic white,” regardless if that was accurate, the bureau said. Managers told loan officers to do this because a computer program that the lender used would not process the loan applications if information was missing, the bureau said.
Freedom Mortgage violated the federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HDMA) by submitting inaccurate data. In a statement, the lender said “while the issue raised by the CFPB has resulted in no harm to our customers, Freedom Mortgages takes reporting consumer information very seriously and is fully cooperating with the CFPB on this matter.”
The settlement requires Freedom Mortgage to pay a civil fine of $1.75 million and take steps to improve its compliance to prevent future violations.