Cantwell, 9 other senators want banks' foreclosure records revealed

By:  Puget Sound Business Journal by Kelly Gilblom, Staff Writer

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) joined nine other senators Wednesday in writing a letter to regulators, asking them to release information on how well banks have carried out foreclosures. She and others hope the letter -- addressed to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and the Federal Reserve -- will help prevent illegal foreclosure practices.

Washington state had the 15th highest foreclosure rate in the country in the first half of this year with 29,398 foreclosures, according to California data company RealtyTrac. The senators say that illegal practices, such as "robo-signing" (signing foreclosure documents without reading them), are rampant.

Cantwell and others think if they ask regulators to reveal how each banks are performing, it will help the problem.

"We believe that the full disclosure of these documents to the public is necessary given the recent reports by both the Associated Press and Reuters of the continued widespread practice of 'robo-signing' among mortgage servicers," said the letter.

However, there have been numerous measures already taken to improve the practices, including lawsuits against banks, enforcement orders and fines. If what the senators say is true, that illegal practices still exist, that means previous efforts didn't eliminate the problems.

For the full text of the letter click here.

Separately, a new oversight board intended to be a watchdog for financial consumers, called the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, opened its doors today. The creation of the bureau was part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank bill, which put new regulations on financial institutions.