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My story comes from the other end of the foreclosure spectrum.  I own my condo, free and clear.  I have an EXCELLENT credit rating.  I live within my means, save money, pay my bills on time.  

And do I think there is mortgage fraud going on in the USA?  Predatory lending?


This is my story with Bank of America.  It is probably not typical, but it sure made me aware that we have a serious problem going on with financial institutions in this country.

My story below.......

I have been financially self-sufficient since before my 18th birthday.  And years before that, I earned the money I needed to buy many personal items, like all my clothes.  That’s what happens when you come from a large family without a lot of money.  If you want something, you work for it, because no one is going to hand it to you.

I worked my way through college back in the 1970’s.  I bought, and sold, a house back in the 1980’s, and also worked my way though graduate school back then.  When all was said and done, I had $7,000 in student debt and paid that off when I sold my house to move to Ontario.

For years after that, I was a renter.  That was mainly from a personal choice, not a financial one.  I either felt I didn’t like my job, or didn’t like the area I was living in enough to buy property.  So, I rented.

I stayed single, and I have no children.  When I got a job I liked in a town I really loved, I decided to buy.  This was July 2000.  At first, I had a real estate agent, but he kept showing me homes that were more than I wanted to spend.  I wanted to stay well within my means, which meant that the price of the home would only be double my annual salary.

I had the money for a 20% down payment.  I had an excellent credit score.  I had no other outstanding debts, and a sizable amount in retirement funds (which have since gone down considerably, but that is due to the stock market, not the housing situation).  As you can tell, I speak English, am well educated, and hired a lawyer back in July 2000 when I bought my condo.  I had a fixed interest 15 year loan from Bank of America.  I made an extra principle payment of $250 each month.

I did everything CORRECTLY.

Two years later in October 2002, I decided that it would be to my financial advantage to re-finance at a lower rate.  Again, I had a lawyer, and I made sure (like the first time) that there were NO prepayment fees for paying it off early.  I went for a 30 year loan (adjustable after five years) that had a fixed amount that the interest rate could be raised.  This was my idea – because I was thinking that I could pay off the loan before the interest payment went up.  I made an extra principle payment of $250 each month.

So far, so good.  All went according to plan, and Bank of America automatically took out my payments from my checking account.  Bank of America NEVER passed on my loan to someone else – I was too good of a credit risk to share the mortgage with anyone else or to sell or re-sell the mortgage in a mortgage bonds.  I really didn’t know that these things were happening, because they never happened to me.

So, in August 2007, just a couple of months before the interest rate was due to re-set, I went and paid a considerable lump sum to pay down my mortgage.  I paid it at a local Bank of America office.  They cashed that check.  Then they spontaneously decided to stop withdrawing the monthly mortgage payment from my checking account.  They never contacted me.

And I had a hell of a time contacting them.

I went into the local office where the loan originated, but they didn’t/woundn’t do anything about it.  They put me on the phone to someone in another city.  This was the first of MANY phone calls over the next few months, trying to get Bank of America to re-start deducting my mortgage payments from my account.  I would talk with someone, do a check-by-phone for the missing payments, and sometimes it would be deducted from my account.  Sometimes, it would not.  Apparently, Bank of America decided (all on their own and without informing me) to take that lump sum I had given them in August and apply it to principle, escrow and interest payments over the next eight months.  After several phone conversations, I got that lump sum applied to principle.

But they still did not start regularly deducting monthly payments from my account until December.  And, unfortunately for me, they applied the payment in December to someone else’s mortgage in December.  And, they had applied the check-by-phone payments to someone else’s account also.  I did not know that because I had never received monthly statements from them.

And – each and every time I called them (several times a month) one of the first things they asked me was if I was in foreclosure.  I found that upsetting.

And then one day in December 2007, I got a letter from them saying that they were going to report to the credit bureau that I was behind in my payments.  

I'm serious.

Just four months after making a huge lump sum payment --- and after a dozen phone calls to get them to start up the monthly deductions that they unilaterally decided to stop --- they are accusing me of missing payments!!

One thing I did learn from this – insist on a monthly paper statement from Bank of America.  That made it easier to track what those incompetent (or criminal?) folks at Bank of America are doing.

On New Year’s Eve in 2007, I finally got on the phone with another Bank of America person who seemed to grasp what had been going on, and that started the process of getting it straightened out.  It only took me over four months to achieve this end.  And I found this ordeal rather upsetting – not that they cared.

In the fall of 2008, I paid off my mortgage.  It turns out that you cannot pay off a mortgage with a check-by-phone – no, the precious dears at Bank of America have to have the money WIRED to them.  They have returned my escrow funds and issued a letter saying the mortgage is paid in full.

I am free of Bank of America and own my home free and clear.  

My home, by the way, is still worth more than what I paid for it in 2000.  I live in a popular area.  This is not true of a lot of other people’s homes.

Originally posted to dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:05 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  The reason I told this story (60+ / 0-)

    is because I believe that our mortgage companies are taking people for a ride, or flatly ripping them off.  If my mortgage can get this seriously messed up when I did EVERYTHING CORRECTLY, imagine the problems someone would have at the slightest financial or personal problem – or if they don’t know English, don’t know to get a lawyer, don’t know how to fight for their rights, had to move but could not sell, or didn’t buy totally within their means.

    People who are trying hard to meet their obligations and are now underwater in their mortgages should be helped.  Having millions homeless is not what I want in this wealthy country.  

    I will not need a bailout from anyone, thank goodness.

    Update on Afghanistan ival=3314

    by dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:05:55 PM PST

    •  The way banks treat a customer (11+ / 0-)

      when THEY make a mistake is counter-productive.

      This is not the first BoA story like this here; it just reaffirms my decision to NEVER do any business with BoA.

      The Republicans want to cut YOUR Social Security benefits.

      by devtob on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:19:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our loan just reset. (9+ / 0-)

      It went from 4.5% to 4%. So I would like to know why these institutions would prefer to foreclose rather than lower the rates for those holding loans at 12% plus.

    •  Had the same problem with BofA... (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, catdevotee, bablhous, dancewater, Lashe

      I assumed the loan after a divorce, and though the payments had been coming out of my account for a year--and though I had filled out the form to continue having it taken out, they stopped. Took me two months and a number of phone calls to get it reinstated. However, they did take my account # over the phone for payment both months (late the first time when I discovered it hadn't come out--so a late payment). The second month I called early--and no, they didn't have that form--so I gave them the account # again. At least that time I didn't have a late payment. I filled out the form yet again--and at least the third month they got it right. Cross your fingers.

    •  Thank you for sharing and for (8+ / 0-)

      supporting others who have gotten themselves into a mess through many different avenues.

      I am underwater on my mortgage.  I take pretty much all the blame for where I am, though I do have extenuating circumstances that helped me get here.

      However, I too have first hand knowledge of what these creeps have done.  When I did the last refi of my 2nd mortgage a couple years ago (with Chevy Chase Bank - MD - DO NOT LIKE THEM!) the lender tried to talk me into taking out 20 or 30,000 more (forget which now, think it was the higher).  I laughed out loud at the value they were assigning to my 85 year old home in a rural area (that not only needs a foundation - something never disclosed to me when I bought, but likely needs a new well too).  I knew what I WAS taking out was already pushing the limits re value.

      Every winter for the last 5 years I have struggled to keepup - I started a seasonal business back then, and despite working two part time jobs year round (in addition to running the nursery and landscaping), and picking up other jobs in the winter, the winters have just led me into a sinkhole of debt.  I thought if I just stuck it out (that magic 5 year mark for businesses making a profit that everyone tells me about), I would then be able to reverse this trend.

      This fall, instead of paying my 2nd mortgage within two weeks of the due date, is was pushed to 3 to 4 (paying within the 30 day time period).  Initially this happened because I have to mail a check to the checking account I have with them (done to lower the interest rate), then, since it is out of state, it would take 7 days to clear, so the direct withdrawal usually couldn't be done on the scheduled date.  They would start calling, and by the time they did (days after the due date), I would tell them to go ahead and deduct, it should be clear.  Well, they stopped calling, so it started being past the 15 day mark when I finally called them to process my payment. This went on for a four months before I saw that they were charging me a $64.10 late fee!  Apparently, within 15 days you pay a nominal fee (like the $7 one I pay on my first mortgage as long as I pay within 30 days).  With Chevy Chase, if you go past 15 days, they charge you 10% of your payment amount!  

      It is definitely criminal what they have been allowed to do.

      Unfortunately, I might have to walk away from my home this year (my business is on the same property).  I will see how the season goes and IF I can line up substantial work for the winter, may still be able to make a go of it.  However, with the mortgage underwater, and knowing the house needs foundation work, a well, and within a few years, a roof, besides other personal situations that need to be considered, I don't know that I can make sense of sticking around.

      I hate the thought of foreclosure or bankruptcy, but living off of charge cards to cover my bills only makes the situation worse.  Definitely got myself between a rock and a hard place - am willing to pay the piper, if ONLY I could find some decent paying work!

      •  that's a tough story (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lashe, JesseCW, Prairie Gal, mollyk

        and all I can do is hope it works out for you....

        Update on Afghanistan ival=3314

        by dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:51:34 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thanks - (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          tvb, dancewater, Lashe, Rachel Q

          I left the real tough parts out! LOL

          Single mom, never a dime of support, daughter with special medical needs (24 surgeries - she is now 21), well DID go dry last year - hauled water for 5 weeks to nursery, after 10 weeks, lowered NEW pump (3rd in five years - a friend trying to help ruined the latest, a 2.5 yr old Gould) to get some water to house (hardly any pressure), lost hard-drive last feb with no backup - then ripped off by computer guy (gave me back someone else's hard drive that I  paid almost $200 to extract data from!) - all business data on that hardrive, transmission went at same time - fought Ford for 6 weeks, daughter's surgeon of 17 years moved to Houston in Dec (we are in NY) so we squeezed in a last surgery in Nov. which took her out of classes 2.5 wks - lots to fight the college on there, fighting for years for disability benefits for her, battery light on in car few weeks ago, bought battery - needs an alternator in the car - cannot afford now, so waiting to be stranded somewhere, meanwhile, truck died while trying to put plants away in the fall - not sure what the deal is there, also in last few months: washing machine 'dancing', fridge is leaking, electric switch crackling, and so on.....

          If it wasn't for supportive family and an eternal optimism that knocks me out of any pity party, don't know where I'd be right now!!

          All prayers gratefully accepted!

          •  that's a lot of stress (0+ / 0-)

            hope it works out one day Soon!!!!!

            Update on Afghanistan ival=3314

            by dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:21:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Thanks again, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              enough already

              I left something out - something that has both helped carry me through AND been somewhat of a curse!  That would be our dear President's campaign - got addicted to his blog last January, and spent WAY too much time there and everywhere else on the net - including here (as well as doing calls, writing letters, etc.).  On the one hand, found a great community that I could share with and who shared with me - on the other hand, not great to be getting the paperwork end of things done!

              Since the election, I have cured my addiction to that blog only to replace it with here.  Been lurking a year, and the post above was actually my first.  Am supposed to be doing a year end report for the fire district I work for (due the 28th), my taxes ($ I desperately need) and my early orders (plants)!

              I used to be a very disciplined person!  I think part of the reason I am not that person right now is to avoid the stress - gotta get a handle on that soon!  On the other hand, I have a degree in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy and have been unable to read or listen to anything for eight years.  Bush and the 2000 election played a major part in me walking away from my Executive position to go to school for an Associate's in Landscape Development and start my business (9/11, my daughter being in highschool, and dynamics with my Board of Directors were the other reasons).  So, I think I am trying to make up for lost time - plus I am just loving it so much! This administration, that is - still smiling from last night - it really has given me hope and helped me keep up the good fight.

              (and sorry for all the exlamation points - just write that way!)

              •  Best of luck to you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:

                I always believe, and have had it empirically verified time and again, that at the 11th hour, the 59th minute and the 59th second, something always comes through!  So hang in there, keep plugging and keep your optimism up!  You obviously deserve a break.  You'll get one!  

                Best to you and your daughter.  Stay in touch with us here.

                It's now official: it's pronounced nu-klee-er for the next 8 years! SNL Weekend Update

                by sockpuppet on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:25:30 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

      •  Since you probably live in the DC area (0+ / 0-)

        you might be able to get contracts with homeowners associations.

    •  Of course they are and what BofA did to you is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Lashe, Cassandra Waites, JesseCW

      ILLEGAL there are fines they should have paid and damages to you. But most people are just so glad to get it straightened out they never think to use that lawyer to sue the pants off their lender. You were lucky they didn't try to foreclose.

  •  PLEASE make sure you get the note (9+ / 0-)

    back, signed as paid in full, and that they release any liens at the courthouse.  The house is not yours until they release the liens, in some states.

    Congratulations on the payoff!

    If you want to know the real answer: Just ask a Mom.

    by tacklelady on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:19:32 PM PST

    •  I talked with my lawyer the other day (6+ / 0-)

      apparently, they don't send anything other than a "paid off" statement and the deed at the courthouse (which he looked up on the internet) shows me as the owner with no liens.

      Amazing that I have a pile of papers from the closing and one sheet from paying it off.

      Maybe I should check this out further?

      Update on Afghanistan ival=3314

      by dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:22:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Probably ok (5+ / 0-)

        As long as the documents at the courthouse are right.  You should get a copy of the deed and note, though, showing they are paid off.

        That's one of the way folks are stopping foreclosures:  their notes are not available at the banks.

        It's like when you pay off your car and they return the title and note.  The title is the most important because it shows the lien gone.

        You should feel real proud to be done with the Bank!!!!!!!!!!!!@

        If you want to know the real answer: Just ask a Mom.

        by tacklelady on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 08:44:10 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I have a silly question? Do you double check (8+ / 0-)

    your online statements to make sure you have not errors?  The second lesson is that NEVER let anyone do automatic deductions from your bank accounts.  I want to change banks and I have to disenage all my automatic payments and if they sell your mortgage, this becomes more a a pain.  When you use that convenient feature you tend to lose track of your finances.  

    •  no, I don't do internet banking (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DeeDee001, trashablanca

      but I had them start sending me paper bills every month once things got messed up.  

      I find doing automatic deductions from my bank account convenient, but it is a hassle if you change banks.  

      Update on Afghanistan ival=3314

      by dancewater on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:23:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Online banking allows you to track your finances (5+ / 0-)

        much more closely and errors are more glaring.  

      •  There are some real horror stories about (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        snootless, Carol in San Antonio

        automatic deductions.

        I remember one from a family in New Orleans that had their water bill deducted from their checking account.  Even after they had been flooded out and not living in their house for months, the bank/city just kept taking the regular amount month after month, draining their funds and rescue money that was also placed in their checking account.

        It's OK to give $10 to your public radio station every month, or $14.95 to Netflix, those charges won't bankrupt you if they can't be canceled quickly.

        It's very easy to do Internet banking via Chase.  All your accounts are on one screen, you can easily transfer funds, and you can set up bill pay with all the particulars, but it only happens when you push the buttons and not before.  Much safer for you.

        "You don't ever want a crisis to go to waste. It's an opportunity to do important things you would otherwise avoid." Rahm Emanuel

        by Im nonpartisan on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 09:03:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I am in agreement (0+ / 0-)

          except with using CHASE.

          They are horrible too - I had a credit card with them, never used it, took a lot of effort to get them to close it.

          But I don't like internet banking.... if a disaster strikes, I will close out all my automatic deductions.  And I have phone numbers and account numbers in another state, just in case.

  •  Sort of similar story (14+ / 0-)

    with Citibank and a car payment.

    Several years ago, we purchased a car through a loan at a very small town bank.  This bank was suggested by the dealer we purchased the car through and since they offered the best terms, well, why not?  All went well for a couple of years.  This bank is about 80 miles from where we live, so we mailed our payments each month.  Never a problem.  

    One day, out of the blue, we get a letter from Citigroup stating that we are delinquent on our loan.  What?  We didn't have a loan with them.  After several attempts at contacting them, we were told that a few months earlier, they had purchased our car loan from the original bank.  We contacted the bank, and sure enough...they had decided to get out of the auto loan business and sold their existing loans to Citibank.  They said we were sent a letter, but for whatever reason, we did not receive it.  They said that they had been forwarding all of our payments to Citibank for the past few months.

    It took us MONTHS to get this straightened out.  We got calls from Citibank on an almost daily basis, as well as letters threatening to repo our car.  We talked to some of the absolutely most clueless people I've ever encountered in a business setting.  Many could barely understand or speak English.  Even after this was resolved, we encountered more difficulties...payments would be posted incorrectly so we would not get full credit for a payment made.  We'd then get late charges each month as that amount would keep showing as delinquent.

    We paid off this loan back in November, and to this date, we have not received the title for our car.  I will NEVER do business with Citibank ever again.

  •  Maybe it's time to start small claims suits... (8+ / 0-)

    ...against these behemoth-bullies for lost time, expenses,  and aggravation. Is that legal?

    HR 676 - Health care reform we can believe in - national single-payer NOW.

    by kck on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:27:05 PM PST

  •  Stories like these make me crazy.. (9+ / 0-)

    incompetence and apathy will drive ANY customer nutty.

    I've called it quits with all banks, now I use my local Credit Union.

    Glad to hear you finally got it straightend out.

    YES WE DID! November 4th, 2008

    by Esjaydee on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 07:36:25 PM PST

  •  Hire a lawyer when you pay off your mortgage (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dancewater, Lashe, ggwoman55

    if there is a large sum of money involved to protect yourself, your credit, and to expedite getting your deed. The big sharks out there are looking to suck your blood if they think they can get away with it. Don't let them!!

    •  What kind of atty? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dancewater, Rachel Q

      And exactly what would the attorney do? I've never heard of this before (probably because I've never paid off a house! Yet.).

      I was just looking at my local county tax appraisal and, while I know it's not a mortgage appraisal, my house's value is $20k less this year than last.

      The search for truth is more important than the maintenance of beliefs.

      by scarlet slipper on Wed Feb 25, 2009 at 09:07:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We learned long ago to write on a check (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dancewater, Lashe, Inspector Javert

    "extra principal only". Otherwise, the bank would apply the extra principal to future payments.  We also carefully watched our paper statements to be sure the money was applied as directed. Several times they were careless and we would have to make a few phone calls.  But when we started paying on-line, there were no problems because the system was set up to accept principal-only payments.

  •  thanks, dancewater. i've got BoA probs, too. nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
  •  That trick is common (5+ / 0-)

    The one of taking your lump sum payment and applying it to future monthly payments rather than principal. It is rife in the furniture rental business where unless you stay on top of them, any extra payments get applied to future monthly payments.

    I'm glad I refinanced twice with my credit union.

    "The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it." -- George Bernard Shaw

    by Inspector Javert on Thu Feb 26, 2009 at 08:56:01 PM PST

  •  Did you check the interest on your loan? (3+ / 0-)

    Likely, they overcharged you. As your payments were recorded late, your principal was accruing interest at a higher balance.  I would go back and check and make B of A refund you the overcharge since it was there error.

    File a complaint with the Comptroller of the Currency and/or the Federal Reserve.  Go here for guidance:


    Same with anyone who has any problems with a bank.  Go to that site and see where you can file a complaint and hopefully get some assistance.  If the bank has violated a consumer protection law, you will be advised and likely the bank will be more than willing to work with you to avoid further hassle.  And even if there is no violation, with intervention from the regulators, many banks are more willing to pay attention to your problem and correct it.  After all, you complaint will go to managers and not some incompetent customer service clerk.

  •  Congrats... (3+ / 0-)

    On owning your own home.

    This sort of dumbfuckery is hardly uncommon with these sacks of shit. Just be thankful you're out of it with them.

  •  Bank of America! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dancewater, kurt

    From the name, I suspect another right wing plot.

    All our time spent avoiding them was pointless when TWO of our credit cards got bought by them. We asked to combine the two, since they were confusing and have different due dates. Told we couldn't do that.

    The interest rate started creeping up, because they would get confused; take both payments and put them on one card! When they were clearly marked! Started spending time on the phone to get it straightened out and get the late fees taken off. (HINT: Call late at night.)

    All the time the minimum payments were creeping up, too. Finally, despite all of THEIR screwups, the cards were a mess, we canceled them, they demanded all the money up front, we can't, and we are now in a negotiated payment plan with them.

    The good news? Our monthly payments are much more manageable, and the interest went down.

    They are thieves. That is all.

    Pootie fan? Me too! Check out my cat advice blog.
    The Way of Cats

    by WereBear on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 04:43:09 AM PST

  •  Thanks for the Rescue (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, dancewater, kurt

    Since I started subscribing to my hometown paper, I noticed a difference in the foreclosure notices.  They always used to be filed by an instate bank.  Lately, I have been seeing notices from Credit Suisse and Deutschbank.  Just try straightening out a problem with your mortgage with someone in Europe.  The mind boggles.  

    During the S&L crisis, mortgage holders learned how testy their customers could get when their payments were misapplied or posted late.  Put lots of miles and bureaucratic layers between creditor and customer and problem solved.  My nephew was foreclosed on after he left the military after serving 2 tours in Iraq and wasn't able to find a job that paid enough.

    I recently dropped my card from Citibank.  It used to be a Shell gas card but they sold the credit card branch to Citi who turned it into a Mastercard.  I had it for decades.  I use a local bank's card now.

    Don't look back, something may be gaining on you. - L. "Satchel" Paige

    by arlene on Fri Feb 27, 2009 at 05:22:21 AM PST

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