Someone I know, an intelligent professional person peripherally involved in the housing/foreclosure mess, made a statement recently that really threw me. In response to an allusion to the reports of wrongful foreclosures, she said “Oh, I really think that only happened one time and the media just keeps telling the same story.”
It’s this mindset that keeps people who should know better parroting the bank shills’ lines about how thousands of fraudulent documents are just a “paperwork error” and people seeking relief under a government-sponsored modification program only want free houses.
I know I can think of more than one example of the banks’ amazing audacity in wrecking people’s homes and lives. Who could forget the story of the California woman, coincidentally named Mimi Ash, whose mountain retreat had been cleaned out of everything including her husband’s ashes?
So, I set about to find as many different stories as I could about banks wrongfully foreclosing on people, even to the extreme of trashing out houses they had no right to touch.
I sure didn’t have any trouble finding a whole bunch of stories about the banks’ shocking behavior. This is a partial list of the horror stories I came up with:
- Foreclosures gone wrong can haunt homeowners
Bank of America tries to take a house from a California man who didn’t even have a mortgage because he bought it with cash.
- Bank Errors Continue to Cause Wrongful Foreclosures
Bank of America again, telling California homeowners seeking mortgage mods they have to miss three house payments to qualify and then taking their homes.
- Critics: Home repo agents too ‘gung-ho,’ change locks before foreclosures are filed
Florida “home preservation” contractors steal a laptop computer and an ex-con employee drinks a cold beer from the refrigerator.
- Lawsuit accuses bank of seizing wrong house
In Texas, Bank of America agents changed the locks and shut the power off in a house owned free-and-clear by Alan Schroit, causing a big stinky mess when 75 pounds of salmon and halibut from an Alaska fishing trip thawed.
- Bank of America forecloses on house that couple had paid cash for
At a Massachusetts couple’s Florida retirement home, agents for BofA removed belongings and changed the locks on the doors after refusing to acknowledge an incorrect address on foreclosure documents.
- Bank of America: They Steal Parrots, Don’t They?
A BofA contractor went into the Pennsylvania home of a woman who was not in default, cut off her utilities, padlocked her door and confiscated her pet parrot.
- Suit: Chase Bank ransacked home of man on his death bed
A Washington woman finds her dying father’s house trashed by contractors acting for Chase, which had made an error crediting payments but then confirmed the mortgage was current.
- Treasure Coast homeowners say banks illegally locked them out
Wells Fargo locks a Florida woman out of her house twice a full month before her foreclosure is final and contractors rifle through her private papers.
- Oh, and here’s an oldie but a goodie: Neighbors Say Wells Executive Used Foreclosed Beach House
You’ll notice plenty of mentions of people filing or considering lawsuits against these banks. Nice to read about one homeowner win: Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $155,000 for Wrongful Foreclosure Conduct. The bank was found guilty of locking a New York man out of his home, then trashing out the house even after they were ordered not to enter.
The mainstream media has noticed that banks are sending their agents to break into homes even before foreclosures are completed. Even the financial industry trade pub American Banker acknowledges the problem: Seizing the Wrong Home: Rare, but a PR Nightmare.
But you’ll still see quite a few big media understatements on this topic. For example, why does the NYT call burglary a “foreclosure flaw?” And this Phoenix television news reporter seems pretty cavalier about the “mistake” made when a Scottsdale AZ woman with no foreclosure/default issues was locked out of her condo by a bank contractor.
Bargain hunting to buy a foreclosure house? Well, beware – you’re not safe either. The very same bank from whose inventory you buy the house might forget it has already foreclosed and come after you and your belongings.
Imagine finally paying off your mortgage after a delinquency, feeling the relief that you’ve escaped the bank’s foreclosure machine only to have a trash-out company show up and steal your belongings.
Here’s a truly disturbing article, telling homeowners if we don’t want someone to illegally enter our houses and steal our stuff, maybe we should put up signs saying we live there. What?! You’ve got to be kidding me. Makes you wonder whether it’s safe to leave home … ever. Even if you don’t have a mortgage or aren’t in default.
It wasn’t for one Florida homeowner, who found his house had been emptied out and his wife’s wedding dress shredded at the behest of his lender, even though he wasn’t in foreclosure.
These banks are truly out of control. Will somebody remind me what country we’re living in? I’m beginning to wonder whether a tornado picked up my house in the United States and dropped it in a fascist police state.
Too bad all the magic seems to have gone out of the statement “There’s no place like home.”
If you are not even in foreclosure, you risk having the banks kick down your door and change the locks on you when you’re away. Think about that. The argument that the banks take is that when you take out a mortgage, you grant them the right to kick down your door. Did you think about that when you signed a mortgage? Is that what you thought you were getting when you took out a loan? ~Matt Weidner
Deborah Crabtree, Widow, Sues BofA After Being Overwhelmed With Automated Payment Requests
Bank of America reportedly pestered a grieving widow with computer-generated calls from the bank as often as every 15 minutes, including during her husband’s wake, over a missed mortgage payment she had told them she would make once she received her husband’s life insurance.
Should The Banks Be Permitted To Kick Down Doors? Change Locks? Remove Property?
How can the banks just get away with committing violent home invasions? And what about the even greater violations where they clean out a person’s belongings, in some cases spiriting away the valuables while throwing the rest of one’s life into a dumpster?
Update 7/2012: And it’s still going on!
Bank Of America’s House Winterizing Crew Results In A Missing Muscle Car
Family Reunited With Muscle Car Stolen During Foreclosure Wants Bank Of America To Pay For Damages
Update 7/2013: These big banks are out of control and clearly believe they are above the law. How scary is that?
Ohio bank steals woman’s possessions by ‘mistake,’ then refuses to pay up