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.
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.