What's a Mortgage Servicer?

The servicer is the company that actually takes care of your mortgage account.

By , Attorney

A "loan servicer" or "mortgage servicer" is the company that handles your loan account. The servicer might be the loan owner or it might be another company.

Understanding Parties in the Mortgage Servicing Industry

Here are a few of the main parties involved in residential mortgage servicing.

Lender. The lender or "originator" is the bank or mortgage company that lent you the money when you took out your home loan.

Investor. Often, the originator—the original owner of the loan—will sell the loan to a new owner, which is called an "investor."

Servicer. The servicer is the company that manages your loan account. In some cases, the loan owner is also the servicer. Other times, the owner sells the right to service the loan to another company. This sale is called a "transfer of servicing rights." That servicer might then hire a vendor, called a "subservicer," to take on the servicing duties, rather than servicing the loan itself. The servicer (or subservicer) administers the loan account on behalf of the owner for a fee. In the past, servicers were almost always banks. Now, though, the servicer might be a bank or a non-bank specialty servicing company.

What Loan Servicers Do

Among other activities, the servicer usually:

Servicers Sometimes Make Mistakes

When handling loan accounts, servicers sometimes make errors by:

  • misapplying a borrower's payments to the wrong account
  • overcharging fees to a borrower's account or charging unreasonable fees
  • purchasing expensive homeowners' insurance (called "force-placed" insurance) for a borrower's property, even when there's already an insurance policy in place
  • improperly initiating a foreclosure
  • dual-tracking a foreclosure at the same time that a mortgage workout option, like a modification, is in progress, and
  • failing to pay property taxes or homeowners' insurance premiums when a borrower has an escrow account.

Who Is My Mortgage Servicer?

Here are a few ways you can discover your servicer's identity.

  • Check your billing statement. Your billing statement will come from the servicer of the loan. It will have the servicer's contact information, like the phone number and website.
  • Check your payment coupon book (if you have one). If you received a set of preprinted payment stubs in a payment coupon book, each stub in the book indicates the due date, account number, and the amount due. With each payment, you detach the stub and send it to the servicer. The book will also likely contain contact information for the servicer.
  • Use the MERS Servicer Identification System. If you have a MERS loan, your servicer's name will be listed in the MERS Servicer ID system. Look on your mortgage or deed of trust to see if it has an 18-digit MIN or "Mortgage Identification Number." Then call visit the MERS website or call 888-679-6377. You can use the MIN to find the servicer. You can also search by property address or by entering borrower information and a property address.

Getting Help With Loan Servicer Errors

If your servicer makes an error or you need information about your loan account, you may call or write a letter to the servicer—though you'll get more legal protections if you write a letter. Under the federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), if you send a written "notice of error" or "request for information," the servicer has to respond to your letter within specific time limits.

If writing to your servicer doesn't get you anywhere or if you're facing an imminent foreclosure due to a servicer's mistake, consider talking to a foreclosure attorney who can advise you on what to do in your particular situation.

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