Truth in Lending

Marie McDonnell

Marie began her self-study in the fields of real estate and mortgage financing in 1986 during the height of the Savings and Loans scandal. She immediately recognized that consumers had no professional representation with respect to complex, alternative mortgage transactions that appeared to be affordable but which were, in actuality, designed to fail.

In 1991, Marie established The Mortgage Counselor to fulfill this need and began auditing residential mortgage transactions. Within months of doing so, she tripped upon a negative amortization loan program proliferated by subsidiaries of The Dime Savings Bank of New York that was having a disastrous impact on homeowners along the eastern seaboard from Florida to New Hampshire and which resulted in default and foreclosure rates of nearly 50%.

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It was Marie’s audits of these “neutron mortgages” that led to the Attorney General investigations in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut, and ultimately to multi-million dollar settlement awards and relief programs for victims of Dime’s scheme.

Between 1991 through 1996, Marie dedicated approximately 5,000 hours of unpaid time to investigating Dime’s enterprise, briefing the staffs of the Attorneys General, meeting with U.S. Senators and Congressmen, consulting with print journalists and television newsrooms, assisting consumers, and providing expert witness services to attorneys. Her discoveries in this case fueled her advocacy and began her self-educated journey into the minutest details of the mortgage industry.

As her work evolved over the years, Marie encountered real-world problems for which no off-the-shelf loan amortization or accounting software could provide solutions.

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To fill this gap, Marie developed her own analytical tools using “Microsoft Excel” that enable her to identify Truth In Lending violations, breaches of contract, and to track with precision a lender’s malfeasance in the servicing of the consumer’s mortgage obligation.

Marie saw the “mortgage meltdown” coming years in advance and has been preparing, once again, to meet the urgent and pressing needs of consumers, advocates, and attorneys who are attempting to defend homeowners against illegal and wrongful foreclosure. A goal of Marie’s has been to implement workshops to educate Judges and Attorneys. Realizing that the only way to help the millions of people who need access to her analytical tools and foreclosure defense strategies is through technology, Marie is now in the process of developing software that will soon be available to the public through her website and her web-based applications.

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The first analytical tool to become available will be Marie’s Toxicity Test.™ This will be a low-cost way for a consumer to measure the characteristics of their loan against factors that are indicative of predatory lending practices. For a price comparable to filing your taxes online, consumers will be able to obtain a score that measures the toxicity of their loan and receive recommendations as to steps they can take to learn more and find help.

Marie knows that the surgical way to stop a foreclosure is to challenge the standing of the party bringing the foreclosure action and to identify Truth In Lending violations that trigger the extended right to rescind a loan. Truth In Lending Audit & Recovery Services, LLC offers a Securitization Analysis and a Truth In Lending Analysis to meet these needs. Due to the “securitization paradigm” that has dominated residential mortgage financing over the past decade, consumers invariably will need a lawyer to represent them.

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For that reason, we are providing these cutting edge services to attorneys nationwide to give them a strategic advantage in defending homeowners against foreclosure.

Marie has also designed a Foreclosure Defense Pilot Program that is self-sustaining which if implemented by law firms, non-profit organizations, Cities and States, could stop foreclosures and hold wrongdoers accountable.

Marie’s mission has always been to: raise the standard of truth in lending through auditing, education and advocacy; implement the consumer protection provisions of the Truth in Lending Act; disgorge illicit profits gleaned through predatory lending and abusive loan serving practices; promote alternative mortgage products that facilitate our national housing goals and offer equitable and affordable homeownership opportunities to all Americans.

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