Through the Independent Foreclosure Review, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) may choose to compensate homeowners using the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) settlement schedule for the Service Members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). It is important to consider the differences between the events that led to the Independent Foreclosure Review and the previously evaluated Service Members Civil Relief Act settlement.
Following review of hundreds of client files and after looking at the examples of “financial injury” provided by the “Independent Foreclosure Review” website it is safe to say that in a large number of cases corners were cut and rules were circumvented if not broken, for the purpose of profit.
For comparison purposes included below are the (1) examples of Financial Injury provided on the “Independent Foreclosure Review” website and (A) our experiences with these examples:
1) The mortgage balance amount at the time of the foreclosure action was more than you actually owed.
(A) I remember seeing (for the first time) 8 consecutive clients in 2008 that had incorrect balances on their mortgage statements. A borrower can make a Qualified Written Request to request information and correction of errors. In our experience the lender meets the requirements of “acknowledging” and “responding” less than 15% of the time placing the homeowner at a disadvantage. The fine provided under RESPA is not cost-effective to pursue individually. http://youtu.be/ul_slSoeLew ;
2) You were doing everything the modification agreement required, but the foreclosure sale still happened.
(A) * “Authorization” is required for any debt collector or mortgage servicer to speak with a 3rd party about one of their client accounts.
A client contacted our office November 4, 2011 with a current HAMP loan modification trial plan offer and a Trustee Sale Date for November 23, 2011. She was in the situation that if she made a payment in satisfaction of the offer the Trustee Sale was scheduled to take her home the day before Thanksgiving. The “Servicer” was sent an Authorization and Power of Attorney on 11/8. They confirmed “Authorization” and spoke with me in detail on the 10th. I called back daily until the 17th where they refused to speak with me again and I was forced to have my client leave work and come to my office for verbal authorization on the 17th. Typically verbal authorization is good for at least 24 hours. They were only willing to honor it for the phone call and we were disconnected 4 times requiring 5 phone calls over 1 hour and 52 minutes. Following my notification to them that I was documenting this for the Nevada Foreclosure Mediation Program and the Independent Foreclosure Review Program we were notified she could go back to work and no further “Authorizations” would be required (later I received confirmation of “Authorization” by mail). I was later told the Sale Date was postponed and the offer of loan modification would be honored if payment was sent overnight by the 23rd even though the offer was valid until the end of the month according to guidelines published by the federal government.
3) You requested assistance/modification, submitted complete documents on time, and were waiting for a decision when the foreclosure sale occurred.
(A) We have worked (free of charge) with a couple, each over 85 years of age that have been hospitalized numerous times in the last 18 months for Alzheimer’s, heart, and stomach related medical issues. Complete applications were submitted no less than 5 times. No documentation was ever received (by our firm or the borrowers) to request additional information or deny the applications. Following our phone calls we were directed by telephone to wait for the seemingly endless conclusions of processing. Between 7/13/2010 – 7/1/2011 our correspondence with the Servicer was interrupted due to “No Authorization on file” no less than 5 times and was confirmed no less than 7 times. There is presently a foreclosure action filed for this home later this month. We have seen numerous homeowners that were overwhelmed and felt as though their actions until that point had been expensive, useless, and/or used against them. Moving forward they decided not to take action.
4) Fees charged or mortgage payments were inaccurately calculated, processed, or applied.
(A) Recently we received a loan modification for a client that never missed a mortgage payment. We submitted no less than a dozen applications because we were consistently directed to re-send because our fax receipt displaying delivery status “confirmed”, location “confirmed”, and number of pages “confirmed” was incorrect according to the mortgage servicer. Following satisfaction of that loan modification trial plan and notarized permanent modification paperwork the monthly statement still shows the larger, pre-modification payment amount. This results in an incorrect delinquent balance appearing on the mortgage statement and similar credit reporting. 1(A) above explains “Correction” of this situation. http://youtu.be/ul_slSoeLew;
5) The foreclosure action occurred on a mortgage that was obtained before active duty military service began and while on active duty, or within 9 months after the active duty ended and the Service Member did not waive his/her rights under the Service Members Civil Relief Act.
(A) The Veterans we have come into contact with have been under the impression that things happened so long ago that nothing could be done.
After communicating with our clients’ lenders (between 2008-2010), 100% of our clients told us that they were contacted by their lenders and notified the lenders had never had contact with our office. This commonly caused tension among homeowners who weren’t sure if they were being taken advantage of.