Who Am I? And What Am I Whining About?!
Read my mortgage modification scam chronology
I’m not some scammer trying to get out of paying a debt. I am an ordinary single woman in my late 40s, a self-employed small-business owner who fell prey to the recent economic downturn and the demise of a personal relationship. In good faith, after many mailings from Wells Fargo urging me to contact my lender well before I reached the point of default, I started the mortgage modification process late March 2010. I fully expected that, encouraged by the federal government, Wells Fargo would in good faith consider granting the aid I requested by the time the inevitable seasonal downturn in my business came about (think outdoor activities when it's 103 degrees out and you can easily see the reason for the reduction in my income in July and August).
Keeping up with payments can be difficult, especially with circumstances like job loss, decreasing home values, or over-extended credit. By reaching out to us when challenges first arise, you keep more options open.
That didn't happen, and not because I didn't comply with every single request to provide the same documents over and over and over again. I lost count of the hundreds of hours I spent in the phone queue and the number of representatives I spoke with – most of whom were pleasant and courteous and some of whom genuinely seemed to be trying to be helpful – all the while getting differing and confusing and contradictory information week after week.
I certainly was not sitting around looking for a handout while living some kind of an extravagant lifestyle. I lived in a modest house I chose because it was one of two available in the area where I needed to live when I relocated to Arizona for a job. I resisted the lender's attempts to get me to buy a bigger, more expensive house for which he assured me he could approve me because of my stellar credit score. I bought what I felt I could afford on the salary I was promised for a job that later vanished into thin air.
One perky but rather impertinent male rep. even went so far as to suggest that while I was waiting for a resolution, I should just get a part-time job or a roommate. As if the latter is as easy for someone on the downhill slide to 50 as it would have been in my 20s. And, as for the former, I am a journalist by education (which I paid for myself) and years of experience – a print journalist with credentials as a newspaper and magazine writer and editor. Think there are many jobs out there for me in that field? And my last employer before I went full-time into my current business was a state university. Much hope of getting hired back there? No. My only hope was to put in 13-14-hour days working to make my current business succeed while I was playing Wells Fargo's little delay and deny loan mod game.
Although all the letters I get from Wells Fargo include some form of the "if your monthly expenses are too high, maybe you should go see a credit counseling agency" paragraph, that's not my issue. In fact, Wanita Nelson from the WFHM president's office actually said this to me: “We don’t see a lot of loans like yours without other debt.” Yeah, so why did't that make me a better candidate for mortgage assistance than those people who do have a lot of bills?
In my life I have always paid my bills and paid off my debts - a small school loan after college and two vehicle loans (one for the '92 Toyota pickup I drove until an inattentive driver rear-ended me in early 2013.)
I am a farm girl who grew up on very little – we had plenty of food on the table, but I don't remember ever owning anything that wasn't purchased secondhand or on clearance, and that frugality has been a lifelong habit. But after the greed-fueled banksters tanked the economy and my business dropped off more than 40 percent in just a few months, thrift just wasn't enough. I needed help affording my mortgage payment and I stupidly believed the marketing BS from Wells Fargo that said I would get it. Too bad they lied.
It's not as if they couldn't afford to give homeowners a little leeway. They got their bailout money and used it to swallow up another bank. Seems like worked out pretty well for WF.
Wells Fargo now most profitable bank in U.S.
Meanwhile, they're still jerking around homeowners on loan mods and as the nations top mortgage lender, sucking in unsuspecting future foreclosure-machine fodder.