State of Illinois v. Safeguard Part 2 -- Consumer Illustrations
According to AG Madigan's complaint, the Illinois Attorney General's Office is aware of over 200 complaints from Illinois consumers against Safeguard concerning the removal of personal property from their homes. The entire complaint is worth a read. If you are a practitioner who is contemplating filing suit against Safeguard on behalf of a client, then that complaint is mandatory reading. Mandatory.
For the rest of us, I am going to summarize the cases of specific Illinois consumers that are described in the complaint.
On July 19, 2011, a foreclosure lawsuit was filed against Barry. Safeguard was hired to determine if Barry's home was vacant. Safeguard hired Central Valley Mortgage Services and another subcontractor to perform the work.
In August 2012, Barry found a notice on his door declaring the property vacant. The notice included a number to call and respond if the property was not vacant. Barry called Safeguard at the number provided and informed Safeguard that his home was still occupied. 12 times during the month of December 2012, Barry found, and responded to, similar motions. Barry felt as if Safeguard was trying to intimidate him into leaving his home.
At some point in December of 2012, Safeguard told its subcontractor to secure the "vacant" property. That subcontractor broke into Barry's home by knocking down the door with a sledgehammer. Central Valley left a note the same day apologizing for the unlawful entry. It claimed that it had re-secured the property.
In fact, the door was left off the hinges. After two weeks of fighting with Safeguard, the company agreed to repair Barry's door.
In February 2012, a foreclosure lawsuit was filed against Sherry Eubanks. In October 2010, Sherry's home was sold at a sheriff's sale. Also in October 2010, Safeguard sent a contractor to Sherry's home to secure and winterize it. Sherry's daughter was home alone. She saw men trying to gain entry to the house and called 9-1-1. The men (employees of Safeguard's subcontractor -- Exclusive properties) gained entry to the home by breaking a window.
The police arrived and arrested the men.
In 2009, Mark was working on a short sale of his home. From mid-February to mid-March, Mark was in Fort Devens, Massachusetts for mandatory military training. Even though Mark stopped his mail and secured his home, Safeguard broke into his home while he was serving his time as a member of the U.S. Army Reserves.
In the process of securing his home, Safeguard turned off Mark's utilities. This casued damage to his home. Safeguard has never reimbursed him.
Dilene fell behind on her mortgage payments. Although she was not in foreclosure, CitiMortgage hired Safeguard. In January 2008, Safeguard broke into Dilene's home. She was staying with her mother at the time, because her mother had been recently diagnosed with cancer.
Safeguard winterized Dilene's home. At no point in time was she in foreclosure. When Dilene informed Safeguard that her home was not abandoned, Safeguard advised her that she no longer had a right to live in her home. After this conversation occurred, CitiMortgage finally filed its foreclosure action.
Safeguard did not give Dilene the keys to her home until February 2008. It did not restore her water service. By March of 2008, the water was still not restored, rendering the home uninhabitable.
These stories are not uncommon. They are also rather mild cases compared to the cases that our offices are currently handling. These examples illustrate a very crucial point--never think that something is "not a big deal." Even the smallest intrusion is actionable. If you find your home has been broken into, CALL THE POLICE. Once that's been done, notify the Attorney General.
You might also want to call us.