Kelly Holleran Oct. 15, 2013, 9:50am

An Edwardsville couple has filed suit against the company that it claims wrongly attempted to collect a debt from them by telling them that their home was about to be foreclosed on.

Harmon V. Cook Jr. and Pamela Cook claim they had been making mortgage payments on their home at 1575 Maplewood Court in Edwardsville to GMAC Mortgage through December 2012.

On Feb. 7, 2013, the Cooks received a letter from Green Tree Servicing, saying that it had taken over the payments from GMAC Mortgage, according to the complaint filed Oct. 2 in Madison County Circuit Court. Later that same month, Cook received another letter stating that he owed Green Tree $5,757.32 immediately, the suit states.

After receiving the letter, Cook called Green Tree to inquire about the letter and was told that he needed to pay the money immediately. If he did not, he was told his home would be foreclosed on, the complaint says.

Cook met with his attorney, Richard L. Steagall, to determine what steps he needed to take next. He decided to hire his attorney to help him with the matter and to refrain from proceeding with any payments until he received documentation of Green Tree’s right to receive payments.

Steagall then sent Green Tree multiple letters requesting it verify that it was authorized to receive mortgage payments instead of GMAC, according to the complaint. However, neither he nor the Cooks received proof that GMAC had authorized Green Tree to begin accepting payments.

Steagall and the Cooks continued in their attempts to verify that Green Tree should have been receiving mortgage payments, but have still not received any such verification. Meanwhile, the Cooks continue to be threatened with foreclosure, the suit states. However, the Cooks contend that a foreclosure action has not been filed.

The Cooks say that Green Tree’s attempts to collect money from them consisted of deceptive communication. They also say the company violated the Fair Debt Collection Act by failing to provide requested information within five days.

Because of Green Tree’s actions, the Cooks have suffered severe mental distress, the complaint says.

In their complaint, the Cooks are seeking a judgment of more than $50,000, plus attorneys’ fees and expenses. They are also seeking an injunction directing Green Tree Servicing to refrain from further contact with the Cooks until Feb. 1, 2014.

Richard L. Steagall and Ryan S. McCracken of Nicoara and Steagall in Peoria will be representing them.

Madison County Circuit Court case number: 13-L-1654.

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