The Mortgage Modification Scam Still Alive and Well at Wells Fargo

Lest you harbor hopeful thoughts that a series of much-publicized no-wrongdoing-admitted settlements with the banksters means they’ve stopped cheating on mortgage loan modifications and other foreclosure-related transactions, consider the following. (They’re still cheating.)

These search phrases that brought readers to my blog tell me that people are still being jerked around by Wells Fargo. That in defiance of requirements specified in the National Mortgage Settlement, Wells Fargo is still dual-tracking and screwing around with short sales. Oh, and probably still employing overzealous lockout/trashout tactics. (Yeah, and how much would you bet that robo-signing is still going on in deep, dark basements somewhere?)

Yes, these examples focus on Wells Fargo, but given recent history, do you really believe the other big banks aren’t still doing exactly the same?

Here’s a sampling of searches from just the past 30 days:

  • i qualify so why wont wells fargo give me a home modification hamp
  • scams through wells fargo loan modification program
  • wells fargo ignores short sale request
  • has anyone been forclosed on while working with the bank on a modification with wells fargo
  • wells fargo is the most inflexible and dishonest mortgage holder
  • wells fargo cheated me
  • i was denied modification from wells fargo
  • loan modification wells fargo fraud
  • wells fargo fraudlent mortgage modifications
  • wells fargo scared my tenants into moving
  • wells fargo changing locks illegally
  • i got no home modification from wells fargo
  • wells fargo mortgage sold my loan before forbearance

Not that different from the web searches homeowners have been doing for the past six years as the banks have stolen millions of houses and screwed with the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

I expect this will go on and on as long as 1) people continue to do business with the big banks, thinking government and fake regulatory agencies will keep them safe and 2) big corporate banks own the federal and state politicians who should be protecting the American people from financial ruin.

How can you protect yourself and beat the banksters’ scams? Pretty simple.

  • Take all your money out of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, Ally, Chase and any other bank that’s focused more on making money than serving customers and instead do business with small regional/local banks and credit unions. Keep your money working in your community with a simple commercial bank, the kind that exists to provide services such as checking and savings accounts. You don’t want to risk being the cash cow for the greed-fueled traders at one of the “too-big-to-fail” investment banks.
  • Never, ever take out a loan with an institution that has the contractual right to sell your loan to another party or to sell the servicing rights to another party. You want to decide which financial institutions will get your business, not be a pawn in some bank executive’s greed-fueled frenzy to get a six-figure bonus.

Wells Fargo: Sucking Since 2008 … and Beyond

How sad is it that a blog post from May 2008 is still getting comments in May 2014 from people who have been screwed over by Wells Fargo?

10 Reasons Wells Fargo Sucks – A warning to new customers

If you peruse the information readers have shared over the past six years about this bank’s abysmal customer service and consuming greed, you’ll find every kind of slimy business practice.

Playing games with checking deposits to rack up overdraft fees. Jerking homeowners around, promising to modify mortgage loans after a qualifying period, taking their money during that period and then denying the loan mod. Holding insurance checks for an illogical amount of time when disaster victims need funds for basics like shelter, food and clothing. And so on and so on …

If you’re thinking of doing business of any kind with Wells Fargo, do yourself a favor and read this blog entry and at least a sampling of the comments. Then take the sensible course of action: run far, far away from Wells Fargo and the other big banks (Chase, Citi, B of A)  to your local credit union or local/regional bank. You’ll save time, frustration and money.

Need more reason NEVER, EVER to bank with Wells Fargo? How about 990 reasons?

Top 990 Consumer Complaints and Reviews about Wells Fargo

Don’t say you weren’t warned. Wells Fargo Sucks.

“Wake me up when someone goes to jail.”

The headline is a quote from investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, who has written some of the best articles on Wall Street fraud and greed and the mortgage/financial debacle. He’s writing about yet another bogus investigation into the unbridled greed and blatant fraud that brought the economy to its knees back in 2008.

Despite the hue and cry of millions of foreclosed homeowners and more than a few excellent journalists, there’s been nothing like real justice for what the big banks and Wall Street did to cause so much grief. And, aided and abetted by Congress (with a few notable exceptions), the Justice and Treasury departments, the President and the colluding “regulators,” the greed-crazed financial execs are winding up to take another whack at the economy.

How? By going on doing exactly what they were doing pre-2008, only now with even more arrogance and sense of entitlement, secure in the knowledge that they’ll get richer and get away with it again.

“These banks are not getting smaller; they’re getting larger. There are now more too-big-to-fail institutions than there were prior to the 2008 crisis.” 
Gretchen Morgenson, Why Banks Are Still Too Big To Fail

 The “too big to fail” myth is still alive and well five years after the first domino, Lehman, fell and seems to be accompanied by an overwhelming belief that the perpetrators are also too big to jail. That’s a very dangerous situation. Overthrowing countries dangerous.

And it’s not going to get reined in any time soon, not as long as our political leaders are so cozy with Wall Street and the big banks.

“When JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this year about the “London Whale” scandal, only two of the senators facing him had not received campaign contributions from his bank. Dimon was also called “Obama’s Favorite Banker” for a while.”
From Seven Things You Wanted to Know About Prosecuting Wall Street

Still holding out hope that somewhere, someone is investigating the facts behind your predatory mortgage loan or any of the fast-and-loose dealings that brought on the crisis? Sorry to say, the statute of limitations for some of the infractions is about to expire.

And that special task force on the mortgage crisis that President Obama announced in his January 2012 State of the Union speech? Well, without funds and staff, NY AG Eric Schniederman didn’t have much of a chance to

“…hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many homeowners.”
~ Barack Obama, 2012 State of the Union

I predicted at the time that it was just another of Obama’s false promises to beleaguered homeowners. Very disappointing that I was right.

What would revive our economy and our faith in the nation where we live? Easy. If you’re of a “certain age,” you probably said it every morning of your grade-school days:

“Liberty and justice for all.”

In the meantime, you can stop supporting the companies that are getting away with fraud by simply removing your patronage. Move your accounts to a community-oriented local or regional bank or credit union and go on about your business as if the big banks simply don’t exist.

I only want to hear about the banksters in one context: Wake me when someone goes to jail.

Time to Get Real About the Corporate Power/Land Grab

I’m pretty sure economist L. Randall Wray has it right on the nature of our current economic/political problem

“As the Global Financial Crisis rumbles along in its fifth year, we read the latest revelations of bankster fraud, the LIBOR scandal. This follows the muni bond fixing scam detailed a couple of weeks ago, as well as the J.P. Morgan trading fiasco and the Corzine-MF Global collapse and any number of other scandals in recent months. In every case it was traders run amuck, fixing “markets” to make an easy buck at someone’s expense. In times like these, I always recall Robert Sherrill’s 1990 statement about the S&L crisis that “thievery is what unregulated capitalism is all about.”

“After 1990 we removed what was left of financial regulations following the flurry of deregulation of the early 1980s that had freed the thrifts so that they could self-destruct. And we are shocked, SHOCKED!, that thieves took over the financial system.

“Nay, they took over the whole economy and the political system lock, stock, and barrel. They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.

“Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.

“And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it. Few will even discuss it, since most university administrations have similarly been bought off—in many cases, the universities are even headed by corporate “leaders”–and their professors are on Wall Street’s payrolls.

“We’re screwed.”

And on the inevitable outcome. Either this:

“I see two scenarios playing out. In the first, we allow Wall Street to carry on its merry way, as the foreclosure crisis continues and Wall Street steals all homes, packaging them into bundles to be sold for pennies on the dollar to hedge funds. All wealth will be redistributed to the top 1% who will become modern day feudal lords with the other 99% living at their pleasure on huge feudal estates.

“You can imagine for yourselves just what you’re going to have to do to pleasure the lords.”

Or this:

“In the second, the 99% occupy, shut down, and obliterate Wall Street. Honestly, I have no idea how that can happen. I am waiting for suggestions.”

Neither one is pretty, is it? Time to get informed and take action, people. A good start would be moving your hard-earned $$ out of the big fraud-factory banks.

Update 7/26: Hmm. Zombeck thinks we’re screwed, too. Is anybody listening out there?
Below the Fold: Rumor Has It We’re Screwed

The Banksters Swagger, Hijack Democracy

Why is the banking industry running roughshod over Americans? Why should you stop supporting these big banks by taking your money elsewhere? Listen to this episode of the Diane Rehm show and you’ll get some good information about how the banks have bought our so-called democracy and systematically shut out the voices of the many to give them free rein to make billions.

Diane Rehm: So … Wall Street has government by the scruff of its neck?

Gretchen Morgenson: Well, Wall Street is in a very powerful position and this is quite mysterious to me because they helped us into the biggest recession and the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression. And I truly would have thought that they would have been a little bit more subdued about their attempts to manipulate the regulation that would be a normal outcome of the crisis. They haven’t. They have been aggressive. They have been absolutely swaggering around Washington and I think it points to an enormous problem with the disfunction of Washington today. People like you and me, we do not have a voice in Washington. People on Wall Street have a very loud voice and they have a very loud megaphone.

Mad? You Bet I’m Mad. You Should Be Mad, Too!

With less than 48 hours to go before the trustee’s sale of my home, you bet I’m angry. Wells Fargo has lied to me and jerked me around for nearly two years. Wells Fargo refuses to restructure my mortgage loan, faking income and expense numbers that have no relation to reality but do support the illusion that I am ineligible for a HAMP mod. Wells Fargo refuses to return phone calls or answer letters and generally makes it impossible to deal with them on any level of professionalism.

You bet I’m mad and I just keep on telling my story to everyone I can. If you’re being screwed over by one of these big banks in their blind foreclosure feeding frenzy, I hope you’re mad, too. The only way to stop the mortgage servicing industry from continuing to trash the economy, undermine the rule of law and disrupt the lives of millions of Americans is for more people get mad. For more people stop doing business with these fraud factories and put them out of business.

If you’re existing in the world of foreclosure threats and “home preservation” scams, you have every reason to be mad. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

“I’m going to be mad as long as I need to be mad, and then I’ll try to get frustrated.”

Big Banks are Too Big to Serve Their Purpose. Move Your Money.

One of the largest problems with the big banks’ “systems” for evaluating mortgage loans for modification is the sheer volume of loans to be reviewed. No, I’m not buying in to their nonsense spin that they’re doing the best they can; it’s just that the silly homeowners won’t cooperate by sending the proper paperwork.

And I certainly haven’t changed my mind about all the delaying tactics being an intentional strategy to either drive people away without a mod or drive people deeper into debt so that a mod becomes impossible. Those are deliberate systems put into place by the big banks to manipulate the intent of modification programs like HAMP and to scam their customers.

But, even if the banks were honestly trying to help borrowers retain their homes, there are two big roadblocks.

First, the vast majority of homeowners aren’t really the big banks’ borrowers. Most of those mortgage loans originated by Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America and their cronies weren’t retained by the institutions that wrote the loans.

If you bought your home during the frenzy of the recent real-estate bubble, your loan was most likely bundled into a mortgage-backed security and sold on before the ink was dry on your purchase agreement. The riskier the loan (those creatively structured sub-prime loans), the quicker it was securitized.

If you bought your home before the real-estate bubble and weren’t a sub-prime borrower, your loan was sold on, as well. That’s because, at least in the early days of securitization when there were still regulations and standards in place, each bundle of loans had to include a certain percentage of high-quality “performing” loans along with the riskier junk loans.

So, suddenly, the company that once bore the risk for the performance of your loan was no longer in that position, no longer had a stake in ensuring you could pay off the loan. Instead, the big banks became loan servicers, which means they make more money (in the form of fees charged to the investor) when something goes wrong with the loan than when you’re just going along making your payment every month. That means foreclosure is more profitable to them than restructuring your loan so you can keep paying.

How ridiculous is that? Talk about a business plan that is not sustainable. It’s all about making those record profits and obscene bonuses in the short term, no matter the long-term cost to the economy or the bank itself.

The second problem keeping the big banks from properly reviewing mortgage holders for loan restructuring is sheer volume. More than 2.5 million home loans have gone into foreclosure in the past two years. That’s a lot of paperwork, even if the banks weren’t playing the “we didn’t get your documents; send them again” game.

What that means is that whether your mortgage qualifies for a modification isn’t decided based on the judgement of an experienced mortgage loan professional. Whether or not you qualify depends on how a bank employee (or contractor) interprets those income and expense numbers you send over and over and which figures he or she decides to input into a computer program that decides whether you qualify.

For the most part these people parsing your financials don’t have much experience or training. And they are highly incentivized by the banks to find ways to ensure you don’t qualify. But even if they were experienced, honest people trying to actually help homeowners avoid foreclosure, the system is doomed to failure. When computers instead of human beings decide the fate of mortgage-holders, of course the numbers of foreclosures will grow.

Again, the sheer size of the big banks sets up a lender/borrower relationship that benefits neither party in the long run – another unsustainable business model.

The real problem here is that the banks have become too big to provide the services they were created to provide. It’s not “too big to fail.” It’s truly “too big to succeed.” Banks with no connection to their customers, writing loans they don’t intend to own long-term, is a recipe for financial disaster. Add on the billions they made bundling all kinds of questionably created mortgages into big-dollar securities and the billions they derive from their loan-servicing subsidiaries and you can see that the big loser here is the consumer, the person the bank is supposed to be serving.

Runaway greed, short-term thinking and the impersonalization of banking services have brought down the largest economy in the world. The big banks have made themselves too big to sustain, too big to do the job they were created to do.

So what can you do about this? It’s actually pretty simple. Stop doing business with a bank to whom you are just a number. Move your money to a local/regional bank or credit union and start establishing a relationship with the people who handle your financial affairs. When it’s time to finance a house loan, a car loan or any other loan, you’ll be working with an institution that is going to own that loan for the duration and that won’t.

A banker with whom a customer has done business over the years can take into consideration the borrower’s full financial picture. Has the person been a loyal customer for many years, always managed his or her finances responsibly, paid off other debts fully and in a timely manner? Is the current hardship a temporary situation caused by circumstances beyond the borrower’s control? If the answer to those questions is “yes,” an experienced financial-services professional is likely to see that customer as a good risk and work to restructure a loan to the long-term benefit of all parties.

On the other hand, if the customer has a history of overdrafts, late payments and general poor financial management, perhaps that person doesn’t get a loan in the first place. Disappointing for the customer, but surely a much more responsible way to do business. A sustainable way to do business. A bank serving its customers the way banks are supposed to.

Invest in Main Street, not Wall Street. Move Your Money!

Related Links:
Move Your Money, Change the System
Moving money: deposits rise at local banks

Thanksgiving Wishes for My Fellow Fighters

I’ll be spending part of my Thanksgiving sorting and packing, getting ready to take the first load of non-essentials to storage in anticipation of an upcoming move forced on me by my mortgage servicer/lender Wells Fargo.

The foreclosure sale on my house is scheduled in late January, but between being very busy at work and needing to put at least a little energy into Christmas shopping for family and friends, I’m feeling the need to try to get a bit ahead.

As angry as I am at Wells Fargo and as disgusted as I am with the course our “leaders” are charting for this country, I remind myself that I am in better shape than many of the millions who fallen victim to the big banks’ foreclosure feeding frenzy.

I don’t have kids who will be uprooted from school or friends by a forced move. I have a job; my company is finally recovering from the economic downturn caused by the greed and fraud of the big banks. I am healthy and able to work, to pack and to haul my belongings across town. I have the financial resources to find a new home for myself and my pets. I have the skills and determination to keep fighting Wells Fargo until the very end. And I’ll be telling my story and urging people not to do business with Wells Fargo and the rest of the big banks for the rest of my life. You can count on that.

So, as much as is possible while I’m sorting and packing to leave what I thought would be my home for life, I am thankful today on this day of national Thanksgiving.

My good thoughts and very best wishes to all the other Americans who have been lied to and strung along and cheated by the banks that are supposed to be serving them. I wish you a peaceful and prosperous New Year. I hope you fight as hard and as long as you can to keep your home. I hope you keep your old home or enjoy your new one. I hope you tell the story about what your bank has done to you to as many people as you can. I hope you never deposit or pay a dime to another big bank ever again and you encourage your friends, family and even total strangers to move their money to local/regional banks and credit unions.

Good luck and Happy Thanksgiving.

Foreclosure Justice Advocates are Thankful in 2011

We’re thankful — and worried

Start a Conversation With Your Banks … At Their Expense

“If you can’t occupy Wall Street, at least you can keep Wall Street occupied.” Brilliant!

Now, everyone go out and buy some wood shims or cut up some of those spare roofing shingles you have in your garage or storage shed. And don’t forget to insert a message telling the banks just why you’re doing this!