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updated: 9/12/2013 8:02 AM

Ill. sues property firm over foreclosure evictions

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Associated Press

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing an Ohio company, claiming it illegally evicts Illinois homeowners whose properties are in foreclosure.

Madigan announced the lawsuit Tuesday. She says Safeguard Properties of Valley View, Ohio has broken into homes, changed the locks and shut off utilities before foreclosures are finalized.

Safeguard is hired by mortgage lenders to determine if a home that's in default or foreclosure is still occupied. If it's vacant, Safeguard is supposed to secure and maintain the property.

But Madigan claims Safeguard routinely determined that houses were vacant even when it was obvious people still were living in them. Homeowners and tenants may legally occupy a home until foreclosure is completed.

A Safeguard spokeswoman says the company follows industry best practices and will "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit.

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