Respite … And Allies in the Mortgage Mod Fight

For the first time in nearly a year, I feel like someone is on my side in this whole mortgage modification nightmare. And it’s none too soon. I’m determined to keep fighting, but boy was I getting worn out.

Now, I have allies. And one, in particular has made a big difference. That would be the dedicated and very determined staffer who works on mortgage and foreclosure issues for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. Ever since Amanda got involved, the whole tone of my interaction with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, my loan servicer, has changed.

For the first time since I initiated a mortgage modification review back in March 2010, WFHM employees do all kinds of great things. They return phone calls. They answer questions. They even call to update me on the progress of the review. Just like real, live professionals.

Until now, my impression of Wells Fargo’s corporate culture might best be described as “The Keystone Kops Run a Bank.”

Lost paperwork. Simple documents nobody seemed to be able to read and comprehend. A different answer from every person you talk to. Misdirection. Misinformation. And lies … lots and lots of lies.

But, thanks to the intervention of the staff of my convalescing congresswoman, I finally have had one stable contact person who has performed all the basic tasks one expects from professional, adult human beings. For several weeks in a row.

(If you’re in this process, you know how big a deal this is. If you’re not, I’ll just mention that since June 2010 I have had nine people who at one point or another professed to be my “permanent” contact person who would see me through until the end of the modification review process. And only two of those would return calls; the others pretty much blew me off after the initial contact. Strange way to run a business.)

Thanks to Gabby’s dedication to her constituents, her interest in the mortgage/foreclosure crisis and her wisdom in choosing a hard-working woman as her point person on the issue, I now have the direct phone number of a very helpful member of WFHM’s Congressional Support team.

Yep, that’s just what you think it is. The company gets enough inquiries/complaints from members of Congress on behalf of their constituents that there is a department just to deal with that. (I’d be pretty embarrassed to need that if I were the CEO; wouldn’t you?!)

I don’t have a modification yet – I was turned down on my second attempt to qualify for the scam known as HAMP. I do have a three-month forbearance agreement that buys me some time to get back on my feet financially. And I have my congresswoman in my corner should Wells Fargo try any funny business with that agreement or with my eventual third shot at a modification.

If that wasn’t enough, the past week brought two other welcome developments. First, I was contacted by a helpful Fannie Mae employee who represents the Treasury Department’s recently-initiated inquiry into my complaints about Wells Fargo. That connection was made because of a letter to President Obama I wrote one sleepless night back in November when it started to become clear to me that the loan servicers have turned the mortgage modification process into a complete scam.

Second, I had an enlightening conversation with an intelligent, experienced and extremely nice lawyer from Southern Arizona Legal Aid. She is an expert in mortgage modification and really knows the ins and outs and all the unwritten “secret” bits the banks don’t tell borrowers or ever want us to know. It is such a relief to have that resource to back me up in my fight. (Thanks to Giffords’ aide Amanda for this referral!)

I’m still living in uncertainty, knowing that WFHM could pretend the forbearance agreement doesn’t exist and foreclose tomorrow. I still face the possibility that even after all this work, I might still lose my home. But, at least, I am standing up and saying, “No!” What the big banks are doing to millions of people is not right and I, for one, will not go quietly.

For my fellow homeowners fighting against the big fraud-factory mortgage loan servicers to hold on to your homes, the moral of this story is: Make Noise! Write a reasoned, articulate letter to everyone you can think of – legislators, government agencies, consumer-protection organizations, media. Tell your story. Ask for help. You might just get it. Good luck!