PORTLAND -- Four months after Bank of America admitted making mistakes in threatening to foreclose on a Portland woman’s home, the bank is back at it again.
“It’s a slap in the face,” that homeowner, Polly Brown, told Unit 8. “It looks like to me they're just a bureaucratic mess and the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing, it’s just a mess.”
In April, Unit 8 helped Brown get an apology and correction to her credit scores from Bank of America. She thought her mortgage mess had ended, until she got a recent letter from the bank.
That’s when she contacted Unit 8 for help again.
When Brown first reached out earlier this year, her frustration and fear left her in tears during an interview.
She told Unit 8 that she had always made every house payment on time and in full, according to the bank’s instructions. That amount fluctuated from hundreds of dollars to a few cents over the past year while she applied for and obtained a mortgage modification from Bank of America.
During the same period while Bank of America was working on modifying her loan, the bank was also sending her letters stating that it was moving forward on foreclosing on her home because she was delinquent on payments.
The bank had also sent delinquent payment reports to credit bureaus, damaging Brown’s credit.
After she called Unit 8 in April, we contacted the Oregon Attorney General. Bank of America eventually apologized for making mistakes, and promised to correct inaccurate information they had sent to credit bureaus.
Those actions satisfied Brown. She told Unit 8, “I got results when you [Unit 8] and the Attorney General got involved. I got results. Bank of America cleaned up my credit and corrected their accounting mistakes.”
She thought her troubles were over. Then, in September, she got a certified letter from Bank of America warning her that her payments were past due. The letter stated, “It is important that we receive full payment as soon as possible so you can avoid foreclosure on your home.” </p><p>
Bank of America’s letter continued, “According to our records, your home loan payments of $.00, which includes any late charges or applicable fees, for the month(s) of July 2012 through September 2012, are past due.”
“So I owe zero dollars,” said Brown. “It’s almost laughable but then I checked my credit report,”
Brown said the credit bureau Equifax shows that in July, Bank of America reported she had a past due payment of $1,694.00.
“I’m angry,” said Brown. “I paid those [mortgage payments]. How can B of A say that?”
Brown again contacted Unit 8, and we took the new information to the Oregon Attorney General.
“Unfortunately, we still see a lot of mistakes still happening, ”Assistant Attorney General Simon Whang told us.
Bank of America, along with Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, Citi, and Ally/GMAC, agreed this past February to settle a lawsuit brought by 49 state attorneys general.
The $25 billion dollar settlement is the largest consumer financial protection settlement in U.S. history. The 42-page settlement includes no admission of wrongdoing, but does include a long list of terms and practices those five mortgage servicers agreed not to engage in.
After reviewing Brown’s case, Whang, with the Oregon Attorney General’s office, said it appears Bank of America violated terms of that settlement by sending erroneous information to a credit bureau.
“From what I can see, it looks like they're in violation of this term of the agreement, yes,” Whang said to Unit 8. “Here you have an erroneous situation where she actually did make the payment, but a false statement went to the credit reporting bureaus.”
In a written statement to KGW, Bank of America spokesperson Jumana Bauwens wrote, “We apologize to Ms. Brown for the error in applying her payments to her mortgage. The situation is already being addressed to ensure all payments and credit reporting are reflected properly. Ms. Brown now has a permanent modification on her mortgage.”
Brown said for all her trouble she got her mortgage modified by less than a hundred dollars a month.
She also knows that she’s not alone, that attorneys generals say thousands of other homeowners across the country have been threatened with foreclosures because of mistakes made by their banks.
For them, Brown had this advice: “Just hang in there, don't let them intimidate you, they're powerful and they don't care.”