Did AG Settlement Help Homeowners? Not So Much.

One year after the attorneys general of 49 states negotiated what became known as the “National Mortgage Settlement,” are loan servicer banks more responsive to homeowners seeking to have their mortgage loans re-structured?

The settlement included a number of servicing standards that should have been very helpful to homeowners seeking loan modifications to avoid losing their homes to foreclosure. Among those was a requirement that loan mod applications be reviewed in 30 days, a specific mandate that borrowers be assigned a single knowledgeable contact person to work with them through the review process and provisions that limit the process known as “dual-tracking” whereby banks race to complete foreclosures whilst dragging out loan mod reviews.

Here’s what the settlement promised, according to the official website.

“The banks have agreed to major reforms in how they service mortgage loans. These new servicing standards require lenders and servicers to adhere to a long list of rights for those facing foreclosure.  For example, borrowers will have the right to see all of their loan documents to make sure any potential foreclosure is legal; they will be given every opportunity to first modify their loan before facing foreclosure; lenders and servicers will be required to have an appropriate number of well-trained staff members to promptly respond to the needs of distressed borrowers; and finally, borrowers will have the right to deal with a reliable, single point of contact so they have access to a person from whom to obtain information throughout the process.  This is very important because, throughout the foreclosure crisis, borrowers have lodged widespread complaints about their frustrations in trying to work with their lenders.” (FAQ)

So, have the banks complied? Judging from the comments on this blog, the answer is a resounding “NO!”

Despite including a “very robust enforcement mechanism,” the settlement doesn’t seem to have significantly changed the way the big banks are working with homeowners. People seeking loan mods are still being strung along for months or years sending paperwork over and over or stuck in bogus trial modification plans that trash their credit while the money disappears. The whole “single point of contact” thing doesn’t seem to be working too well, either.

Oh, and then there are the states that stuffed their settlement $$ into the general fund so homeowners got absolutely nothing after losing their homes to lies and fraud. (Yes, the AGs were complicit in that, at least in my state.)

So, if you’re one of the millions of Americans who lost your home to a questionable foreclosure over the past few years, you might want to send your state’s attorney general a big thank-you for all his or her help in bringing to justice the perpetrators and preventing the same nonsense from going on and on.

Send me a copy of your letter and I’ll post it on the blog for our fellow foreclosed homeowners to see.

Update 4/12/13: Banks Continue to Violate Nationwide Servicer Settlement
Update 6/11/13: Well, at least Florida AG Pam Bondi has noticed: Bondi gives Wells Fargo a Wednesday deadline to respond to settlement concerns

Big Banks Still Too Big to Jail?

Justice for the millions of people who lost their pensions to the financial crisis? Or the millions who lost their homes to schemes and lies perpetrated by the banks? Nope. Jobs gone, communities devastated, people strung along and then dumped by their financial institutions. And, of course, nobody held accountable because in this country, money buys power and influence.

These two videos do a pretty good job of telling the story of how the financial services industry is getting away with years of lies and fraud.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive

Is There Anyone Wells Fargo Won’t Cheat or Lie To?

As you may have noticed by now, I really don’t like Wells Fargo. It may have something to do with the way they strung me along for more than two years as I tried to restructure the mortgage loan WF originated and then sold to somebody-or-other, keeping only the servicing rights.

It could be the fact that the first bogus review of my loan for modification took more than seven months, during which time I sent the same documents 11 times. Or the lies about things like not being eligible for a loan mod until I was default by 90 days – coincidentally the magic number that triggers the foreclosure process. Blah, blah, blah. Same story as millions of other people at all the big fraud-factory banks.

Thanks to the internet, though, I know I’m not alone in despising Stumpy & Co. for the unprofessional, idiotic and crazy-making way they chose to treat their customers and borrowers.

Take, for example, this guy who found out that in addition to providing piss-poor customer service, Wells Fargo can’t (won’t?) do math. That’s right, nobody in the bizillion-dollar mega-bankster-lair can figure out how to compound interest.

One of my personal favorites is the “you refused to send the documents we never asked for” gambit. They pulled it on me several times.

It’s not just mortgage-holders that Wells Fargo messes with and the problems didn’t just pop up post-bank-induced-economic-meltdown, either. Imagine the frustration of these business owners who were made to fill out forms three times because the bank employee setting up their account couldn’t type their names correctly even when he had their drivers’ licenses in front of him.

What other ridiculous and dishonest deeds did I find Wells Fargo getting up to?

  • Playing the “we didn’t get the paperwork” game with a real estate agent trying to complete a short sale and
  • with a student regarding his student loan.
  • Screwing an account holder on the exchange rate for an international wire transfer.
  • Giving a borrower the run-around when all he wanted was to make a double payment to bring his auto loan current.

Still thinking of banking with this awful institution? Read the Jan. 24, 2012 saga of poor Anit who went round and round just trying to find out whether his account had indeed been frozen for security concerns or whether he was the victim of phishing (pishing?!).

And we could all read for days and days at the very active Wells Fargo Sucks! site. Amazing stories of the crap WF tries to pull on its customers. Not too great to be an employee there, either, according to Kevin, who writes in Entry #2482 about the pressure employees are under to sell people services they don’t want or need. (Interesting employee perspective in the comment to this post, too.)

Save yourself lots of time, energy and frustration and don’t bank at Wells Fargo. Or any of the other too-big-to-serve banks. Find a friendly local or regional bank or credit union that will treat you like a human being and won’t try to cheat you at every opportunity.