In a quiet office in downtown Charlotte, N.C., dozens of Wells Fargo’s foreclosure foot soldiers sit in cubicles cranking out documents the bank relies on to seize its share of the thousands of homes lost to foreclosure every week.
They stare at computer screens and prepare sworn affidavits that are used by lenders in courts across the country to seize homes. Paid $30,700 to start, these legal process specialists, the title that goes with the job, swear an oath under penalty of perjury that they’re corporate vice presidents. They’re peppered with e-mails from managers to meet daily quotas of at least 10 or 11 files day.
If they fall short, they face a verbal warning. Then written. Two written warnings could cost them the paycheck that supports a family. As more than one source for this story told msnbc.com, “I can’t afford to lose this job.”
Pressured to meet daily production quotas, they are likely making mistakes that inadvertently could toss a family out of its home and onto the street, according to these workers.
State and federal prosecutors, in a recent settlement with five banks that included Wells Fargo, agreed. The joint state and federal settlement spelled out how the document procedures at the five banks resulted in “loss of homes due to improper, unlawful or undocumented foreclosures,” according to the complaint.
“These are mistakes that could cost someone their home,” a Wells Fargo document preparer told msnbc.com.
Here are some of the most common complaints about mortgage servicers we hear from homeowners:
Eligible homeowners denied for Hamp modifications because of sloppy handling of documents by the servicer.
Servicers pushing homeowners into less than affordable “in house” modifications when they clearly qualify for the more affordable government Hamp program.
Foreclosing while in review for a modification.
Misapplying trial modification payments or processing incorrectly so the homeowner is disqualified for a Hamp modification.
Misapplying mortgage payments so the homeowner is deemed in default.
Processing escrow accounts incorrectly.
Declaring homes vacant (when they are in fact occupied by the homeowner) which disqualifies them for HAMP.
Granting 3 month trial modification, but the bank insists that the homeowner continue to make the trial payments for months or years, leading them to believe they will receive permanent loan modification documents in the mail, but they never arrive.
Servicers abrubtly refuse payments or send payments back to the homeowner when they have been participating in an extended trial modification plan, then informing them they are denied for modification.
Requesting loan modification and financial documents repeatedly and telling the homeowner they were never received.
Improperly calculating the homeowner’s income to disqualify them for a loan modification.
Discriminating against minorities and single women.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is taking mortgage complaints. If you are having issues with your mortgage servicer we encourage you to file a complaint at www.consumerfinance.gov. It is our hope that the CFPB will see the patterns of abuse as more complaints are submitted by homeowners.
We’re tired of watching banks destroy homeowners lives. It’s bad enough to be a homeowner who may have lost a job or is struggling with a health issue. We’ve all seen how banks take advantage of homeowners when they are the most vulnerable. We’ve created a petition and we’re aiming it at the top!
Collectively we can band together, stop the madness and force banks to do what’s right for homeowners. Help spread the word by sharing this petition with friends and family.
Martin Luther King Jr. once said: Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter. It’s time for homeowners to stop being silent and stand up for their rights.
There are two things every American needs to know about Bank of America.
The first is that it’s corrupt. This bank has systematically defrauded almost everyone with whom it has a significant business relationship, cheating investors, insurers, homeowners, shareholders, depositors, and the state. It is a giant, raging hurricane of theft and fraud, spinning its way through America and leaving a massive trail of wiped-out retirees and foreclosed-upon families in its wake.
The second is that all of us, as taxpayers, are keeping that hurricane raging. Bank of America is not just a private company that systematically steals from American citizens: it’s a de facto ward of the state that depends heavily upon public support to stay in business. In fact, without the continued generosity of us taxpayers, and the extraordinary indulgence of our regulators and elected officials, this company long ago would have been swallowed up by scandal, mismanagement, prosecution and litigation, and gone out of business. It would have been liquidated and its component parts sold off, perhaps into a series of smaller regional businesses that would have more respect for the law, and be more responsive to their customers.
But Bank of America hasn’t gone out of business, for the simple reason that our government has decided to make it the poster child for the “Too Big To Fail” concept. Because it is considered a “systemically important institution” whose collapse would have a major, Lehman-Brothers-style impact on the economy, two consecutive presidential administrations have taken extraordinary measures to keep Bank of America in business, despite a staggering recent legacy of corruption schemes, many of which were simply overlooked by regulators.
This is why the question of whether or not Bank of America should remain on public life support is so critical to all Americans, and not just those millions who have the misfortune to be customers of the bank, or own shares in the firm, or hold mortgages serviced by the company. This gigantic financial institution is the ultimate symbol of a new kind of corruption at the highest levels of American society: a tendency to marry the near-limitless power of the federal government with increasingly concentrated, increasingly unaccountable private financial interests.
The inevitable result of that new form of corruption is this bank, whose continued, state-supported existence should naturally outrage all Americans, be they conservative or progressive.
Moreover, Bank of America has ruthlessly preyed upon millions of homeowners, throwing them out on the street on the strength of doctored, “robosigned” paperwork created through brazenly illegal practices they helped pioneer — the firm sped struggling families to foreclosure court using perjured affidavits produced in factory-like fashion by the hundreds or thousands every day, with full knowledge of management. Through the firm’s improper use of an unaccountable private electronic mortgage registry system called MERS, it also systematically evaded millions of dollars in local fees, forcing some communities to cut services and raise property taxes.
Even when caught and punished for its crimes by the authorities, Bank of America has repeatedly ignored court orders. It was one of five companies identified in two separate investigations earlier this year that were caught continuing the practice of robosigning, even after promising to stop in a legally binding consent decree. Last summer, the state of Nevada sought to terminate a settlement over mortgage abuses it had entered into with Bank of America after it found the company was brazenly violating the agreement, among other things raising payments and interest rates on mortgage customers, despite the fact that the settlement only allowed them to modify loans downward.
Over and over again, we see that leveling fines and punishments at this bank is not enough: it simply ignores them. It is the very definition of an unaccountable corporate villain.
Tell us how you’d like to see banks change the way they treat homeowners. Please use the comment section for your responses.
My experience at HAMP’s Education session for Real Estate Professionals was like being in a parallel universe. What my mind knew and what I was hearing and seeing were complete opposites. I had to mask my expressions all day. I was fearful my face would give me away. I was terrified I would be “found out”. I really play for the other team, the team that wants people to STAY in their homes. I was truly David in Goliath’s backyard. Even with my own foreclosure nightmare, I still am naïve to the far reaches of greed and fraud. Looking into the faces of the “Big 5” bank representatives, I saw smugness, condensation, annoyance, and the ever present blame everyone else attitude.
The session was about HAFA, Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives, i.e. Short Sales and Deed in Lieu. Or as D.S. from Wells Fargo said, “Graceful Exits”. “ A way for people to keep their dignity.” Wow talking about families with such compassion. The Big 5 showed no understanding they were talking about their neighbors, their friends, their children’s classmates. Just unfeeling people sitting on a stage, while the minions sat below.
This event had primarily real estate professionals attend. Those poor brave souls, who had no idea that by the end of the session, they would be belittled and blamed for short sales that fail. Real Estate agents need to do their “due diligence” in order to get the sale closed. Another carrot dangling…My opinion of short sale agents shifted a bit, from the bottom feeders, to people being victimized by the banks. The banks create impossible hurdles for homeowners and everyone involved in real estate. The truly are the puppet masters of our country.
The biggest threat in America today is the BIG BANKS and WALL STREET. Be afraid.
HopeNow – Home Preservation event for homeowners.
The event continued in the afternoon, this time it was a huge production to show America that the banks, HUD and the Government really do care. Ha Ha. Once I realized that HopeNow is funded by the banks, I felt like I was in the twilight zone. Hundreds of people involved in this event, hopeful homeowners, unsuspecting housing counselors, and volunteers who believed this event was going to help people. It was nothing more than smoke and mirrors.
I entered the event, once again a sheep in wolf’s clothing. I was granted access to sit with the HUD approved counselors. I entered with apprehension, did I look like them? Would anyone recognize my name from change.org or the media? Would HSITrust be recognized? Nope. I was in. Talking with the counselors was unbelievable. Some were naïve and hopeful. Some like R.V. from a local HUD approved counseling agency were jaded and pessimistic. She said the banks like people to meet with housing counselors first, to make it easier for the banks. So people can start to accept the reality, that in the end they will lose their home.
I also met another woman, from another HUD approved agency who is a Realtor, and uses being a housing counselor to support her short sales. She has learned well; use the system for your own benefit. Maybe she could get a job at a bank, in the liquidation department.
I saw no one being helped. For example, woman from “keep your home California” table, who had 2 people go sit to apply and walked them to another table, saying they “probably” didn’t qualify. Truth is she was busy working on her laptop. I think housing counselors should be foreclosure survivors, they might have more willingness to work for their clients.
Most of the people I spoke with on their way out of the event, said they got no help. Gee, I wonder why? Others left with contact info for their “single point of contact” at the bank and were optimistic and disillusioned. I left feeling like a very small David, battling a HUGE Goliath. I also left with resolve to keep helping people like me, like others at HSITrust, victims of the foreclosure scam and Wall Street’s greed.