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I am a looooongtime lurker, first time diarist.  I have been with this website almost since its founding.  It has nearly become my news website, although I will keep my ear to the ground of the general consensus on cable news.

I wish I could begin my writing relationship on better terms, but unfortunately bad news makes better catalyst than contentment.  My family an I have been the victims of gross malfeasance at the hands of a mortgage servicing company (debt collectors).  I will give you a brief backstory, with names withheld to protect possible future legal matters.  All I will say is that this takes place in Georgia.

Please join me below.

Introductions first, I am a college grad still living with my folks due to not being able to find a job in my field.  I graduated with honors, no less.  I have only been able to find small jobs that only paid minimum wage and even then those were hard to come by.

My family and I built a house that we lived in for more than a decade.  It was our home, but soon we grew weary of living in a rural area, as there was not much in the way of job opportunities.  Soon finances started to get tight and we were struggling to make our mortgage payments.  Our previous mortgage holder was an understanding man, and knew hardship himself which allowed him to understand hardship in others.  We were late in a few payments in the early oughts and he understood.  However, his company went bankrupt and we now found that our mortgage was suddenly being represented by a debt servicing company.

This company could not be topped when it came to harassment.  Late night calls.  Repeated late night calls.  Near-threats.  All these things.  We had had enough, so were were all prepared to walk away from the house.  They could have the land, the house, whatever.  We were through with it and through with them.  We made this decision in March of this year.  Over the next couple of months, we began to move our belongings out.  They deigned to give us a few months to leave, and our driveway was in terrible condition, so we were thankful for it.  Eventually, last month we were told that the house would be put up for auction this month.  This spurred us to rent a U-Haul and collect the rest of our belongings before the auction date.  So we did, and after much haranguing and sweat, we filled the U-Haul with as much as we could left.  All of those items are safely in storage.

In sum, the items left on our (soon to be former) property were two sheds filled with tools and old knickknacks and electronics, four cars (A white Jeep Laredo, a brown El Camino, a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and a black Chevy Silverado), and a few almost worthless things in the house.  The auction came and went and there didn't seem to be anybody interested in the property just yet.  So we breathed a sigh of relief and my parents went back to retrieve the rest of our possessions.  I should make a note that at this point we had neither signed the deed over to anyone nor had we been served a notice of eviction or even a notice of any action concerning the property.

When they got there, they saw a large char mark on the front lawn.  They hurried to the house and saw that people had been through our house and our sheds, and taken things that were worth things and burned some things that were not worth anything (to them).  This included my grandmothers china set and some valuable looking antiques.  The car had been pilfered through and had their batteries taken out.  The lock on the door had been changed.

My father immediately called the police and waited for them to arrive.  A car came up and my father expected to see the police and instead saw a two men approaching in a truck.  They said, "I guess y'all the people that own this house," in a sarcastic tone. Almost immediately after they came, the cops showed up and the two men severely changed their sarcastic attitude.  My father immediately requested that the policeman take pictures of the changed lock, the cars, the sheds, and the char mark.  The policeman did so, with a bit of ire for the two men that came up the driveway before him.  After he was satisfied, he started to leave when more people came up the driveway.  When asked to identify themselves, they said they were here for the cars that were being sold.  This got my father and mother incredibly incensed, as not only were these people responsible for stealing the batteries from our cars, they were attempting to sell cars that were not theirs.

This is where we stand.  I have figured that these men, who identified themselves as agents of this mortgage servicing company, are guilty of the following acts:

8 counts unlawful trespass - one for the land, one for the house, the two sheds, and the four cars
4 counts breaking and entering - The four cars
4 counts theft by taking - the car batteries
4 counts attempted theft by taking - the cars themselves
4 counts of attempted selling of stolen property.
1 count unlawful eviction
1 count destruction of property.

Because of this criminal malfeasance, we will be preparing a lawsuit.

Also, due to the unlawful activities of this company, we are also inquiring as to the status of our mortgage, as in, whether or not these thugs actually have it.  I suspect that they do not, and if they do not, we will be seeking additional damages and extortion charges.

My question to this community is thus.  How should I proceed and what damages do I seek?  How much pain and suffering should I amount for and what should amount would I be able to receive?

I thank you for reading and receiving my first diary on Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  That seems like a terrible thing to have happen. I (13+ / 0-)

    think you'd be better off checking an attorney though in terms of what to ask for and what you might be able to get.

  •  Unfortunately I don't have advice (10+ / 0-)

    expert or no. I just wanted to show support tip/rec your first diary. This is a horrible situation you are in with your family, hopefully you will get help.

  •  Thank you. (11+ / 0-)

    Allow me to preemptively thank you for any words of support and condolence.  This is a terrible thing.  But when my father came home he said that he knew I would have dollar signs in my eyes and that all four of us would have righteous anger in our hearts.

    This is a tragedy for us... but also an opportunity for financial relief and a rare chance for revenge against our malefactors at the same time.

    •  See an Attourney ASAP!!! (5+ / 0-)

      If there are potential monetary damages, a plaintiff's attorney will take the case on a contingincy basis and will collect he fees as a % of damages awarded.

      If they won't take your case they can refer you to a real estate attorney that can tell you if you have an interest to protect and advise you of your options.

      Do NOT DELAY!  Time is of the essence!

      IANAL and neither are you.  You need one right now with local knowledge to advise you on your rights and remedies.

      The republicons moan, the republicons bitch. Our rich are too poor and our poor are too rich. Ferguson Foont

      by Josiah Bartlett on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:02:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Go to your local Legal Aid society (9+ / 0-)

    and ask them to advise you about your situation's legal 'merits'.  You can also see if your state's 'pro bono' attorney organization can advise you.  I also suggest that you look into how your state's Attorney General views this kind of situation.

    I am not a lawyer and I am not offering legal advice -- just some common-sense suggestions on where to go to look for legal advice.

    I also suggest that your get a copy of the police report and the pictures they took.  You said that the police came, but did they charge the men with any crimes?

    You could also search online to see if you can find any websites can educate you about how debt collectors are permitted to behave in your state.

    I also suggest that you edit your diary to include the name of your state.  This will make it easier for people here who have state-specific knowledge to respond to you.

    •  My father did not press charges yet. (6+ / 0-)

      The police did take their information off their driver's licenses. The police did not arrest them, as yet.  We will press charges later so that we can have all information ready for a potential lawsuit so that we have the threat of potential jail time as leverage.

      •  One important caveat: (6+ / 0-)

        While I am not familiar with the law in Georgia, in many states it is illegal for a person to use the threat of criminal charges (or the agreement not to seek them) to gain financial or other advantage.

        I'm very sorry to read of what has happened to you and your family, and wish you the best. I agree with the suggestion to contact your local Legal Aid Society. Another option is to contact the county bar association, as they may have a program that provides an initial free or low-cost consultation.

        Good luck!

      •  Could you not press charges first and let (7+ / 0-)

        the police begin to prosecute them, then look for the info/lawyer to press civil charges?

        As I see it (with my not-a-lawyer eyes) a police investigation beginning now could nail down some evidence and perhaps keep these people from skipping town or re-organizing their corporate structure (which could make pinning down liability harder).

        An excellent legal-reference site is the Cornell Legal Information Institute  --  http://www.law.cornell.edu/

        I went to the Cornell site and searched on 'Debt Collection'.   In the list of cases and portions of Federal law I saw a summary of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act; here's a portion of that page.

        http://www.law.cornell.edu/...

        Preliminarily, the FDCPA generally applies only to third party debt collectors; the statutory scheme was not intended to cover the conduct of the original creditor. However, some states, such as California, have enacted consumer protection statutes that provide broader coverage than the FDCPA, and they may include the conduct of the original creditor within their sweep. The FDCPA permits such state laws. See 15 U.S.C. § 1692n.

        “The FDCPA broadly prohibits a debt collector from using ‘any false, deceptive, or misleading representation or means in connection with the collection of any debt.’ 15 U.S.C. § 1692e.” Dunlap v. Credit Protection Ass'n, L.P., 419 F.3d 1011, 1012 (9th Cir. 2005). The statute enumerates several examples of such practices, 15 U.S.C. § 1692e, as well as several examples of unfair practices, 15 U.S.C. § 1692f. The FDCPA also provides, for example, that debt collectors may not harass or annoy debtors, may not threaten debtors with arrest, and may not threaten legal action unless litigation actually is being contemplated. See 15 U.S.C. §1692d. Additionally, in their first communication with the consumer, debt collectors are required “to notify debtors about their ability to challenge the validity of a debt and to provide other basic information..” Foti v. NCO Financial Systems, Inc., 424 F.Supp.2d 643, 653 (S.D.N.Y. 2006) (citing 15 U.S.C. §1692g). This includes informing the debtor of his or her right to ask the collection agency to “validate” the debt.

        I hadn't visited Cornell for some time, and I was surprised that their 'front page' had ads  down the side for attorneys local to me, each ad listing the type(s) of law they practiced.  Debt Collections Act page quoted above, the ads changed to local attorneys who practice 'Collections'.  That may be a help to you in itself.

        Since you plan to press charges, I wonder if it would be possible to talk to someone in the Prosecutor's office for ideas about which case to start first.

        •  Criminal culpability brings, automatically, civil (5+ / 0-)

          liability. On the other hand, most victims wisely pass it over because so many of the perps are "judgment proof".

          But I have to tell you that this whole story sounds really, really screwy to me. I might change my mind if I wanted to research Georgia law. But in the majority of jurisdictions, I would simple never leave personal property on real estate that I had allowed to go to foreclosure auction. That would definitely be flirting with "abandonment" issues.

          Hope that this is helpful.

          There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

          by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:34:25 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  We were not leaving it there. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BlackSheep1, martini, worldlotus

            We were trying to get our possessions off.  And they had never told us that we were evicted and we never signed the deed over to anyone.  We never "abandoned" the property.

            And even so, that doesn't apply to the vehicles or the sheds.  They were ours 100% and they had no right to try to sell them.  Especially when the land was still our property according to the law.

            And the house was not being foreclosed on.  We had agreed with them to trade the land and the house for annulment of the mortgage.

            •  From what you say, I can't tell if this was a (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              CroneWit, worldlotus

              Forclosure, a Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure, or something that I've never even heard of. There is no requirement that you give up Title if you have, otherwise, lost it, and, whichever way you lose it, it's still no longer your real estate.

              So, if it's no longer yours, how do you still have the right to store your cars, etc. there. If you come park your car on my land, you and I are definitely going to have an issue about what's going on.

              If you have a mortgage, you have to pay.

              If you can't pay,you have to try to work out some other arrangement.

              If you can't work something out, you just have to leave. I'm sorry!

              There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

              by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:13:23 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, also, "Legal Services" is more commonly the (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          martini, marina, CroneWit, worldlotus

          federally funded program to assist indigent persons with general (non criminal) legal problems. "Legal Aid", at least where I'm from, deals more with "Family Law" issues. (And, yes, I do have a Juris Doctorate Degree.)

          There can be no protection locally if we're content to ignore the fact that there are no controls globally.

          by oldpotsmuggler on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 07:43:34 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  contact the cops again. File charges (0+ / 0-)

        trespass now, then attach charges for destruction of property, theft and attempted fraud (selling cars they didn't own).

        LBJ, Van Cliburn, Ike, Wendy Davis, Lady Bird, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 09:11:06 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Legal aid (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    martini, worldlotus

    You can find help, just start looking. Sorry your first diary had to be about this. Best wishes.


    Libertarianism is something that most people grow out of, not unlike, say, hay fever or asthma. Bob Johnson

    by randallt on Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 06:46:38 PM PST

  •  Is there any paperwork? (4+ / 0-)
    And the house was not being foreclosed on.  We had agreed with them to trade the land and the house for annulment of the mortgage.
    Agreed how?  In writing?  Get a copy of all the paper and read it closely.  Have it available for the lawyer and possibly the prosecutor.  If the agreement was verbal, it is no agreement.  Everything must be in writing.  Foreclosure is a legal action, and you can look up the process in your state, including the requirements for notification.

    The voluntary surrender of a home is often referred to as a "deed in lieu of foreclosure," although it may have a different name in your state.  In any case, it requires paperwork and signatures.

    Get the lawyer.  File charges against the people who broke into the house.  There are processes that MUST be followed, and apparently they were not.  Your family is owed damages.

    •  There was no paperwork. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      worldlotus

      My family has never singed or seen any paperwork about anything regarding the house from this mortgage servicing company.

      We had a verbal agreement contingent of their sending over official paperwork.  That paperwork never arrived.

  •  Deguello, horrible injustice. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, worldlotus

    Hope you can get legal aid and justice.

    Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

    The Americas greatest political dynasty...the Kaan

    by catilinus on Fri Nov 15, 2013 at 01:22:23 AM PST

  •  attorneys (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CroneWit, worldlotus

    I'm a paralegal for a consumer law attorney.  This is what we do.  Check naca.net and find a consumer law attorney near you.  Hurry.

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