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McCollum tells banks to improve home loan modification response

Attorney General Bill McCollum, miffed at the red tape and unresponsiveness that homeowners have reported in dealing with their mortgage banks, just sent a letter to the Florida execs of several major banks calling on them to create a "fair and efficient" process for recession-weary homeowners to modify and renegotiate their loans.

McCollum spokeswoman Sandi Copes said McCollum's office has been getting complaints for many weeks from homeowners who are trying to tweak their loans -- only to be put on hold for hours or directed through a frustrating maze of phone calls and bank reps. McCollum heard an echo of those complaints during a Nov. 7 housing forum in Broward County, and a deputy attorney general from his office saw the problems firsthand while recently sitting with a frustrated homeowner at a bank for two hours, said McCollum spokeswoman Ryan Wiggins.

"Homeowners who experienced excellent customer service from their banks at the time they originated their loans are now frustrated and disillusioned by the lack of response and cooperation they have received from their banks," McCollum said.

Helping homeowners can no doubt build good will among potential voters, of course, so McCllum isn't alone among elected officials seeking higher office. Gov. Charlie Crist in 2008 created the HOPE task force to seek remedies for the state mortgage crisis. Democrat gubernatorial candidate CFO Alex Sink has helped some 750 homeowners renegotiate and pay their loans through initiatives such as the Florida Housing Help program, said her spokeswoman Kyra Jennings.

And McCollum critics (who tend to be Sink supporters, big shocker) point out that he was a member of Congress when much of the legislation faulted with contributing to the national mortgage crisis was passed. McCollum voted for the Financial Services Act of 1999 and the Commodity Futures Modernization Act in 2000, which have been credited for allowing banks to become more aggressive mortgage lenders.

Read the letter McCollum sent to Bank of America, JP Morgan/Chase, Wells Fargo, and Wachovia here.