By William Hudson
You can choose your sexual orientation and even your ethnicity but you can’t change your loan servicer. Mortage “servicing” is the ultimate misnomer. Modern loan servicing has nothing to do with service but instead provides a “disservice” in order to boost profits or engineer a default if at all possible. Being forced to contract with a sketchy loan servicer is like being forced to stay married to a spouse who lies, cheats and steals all your money.
The servicer’s job is to collect payments and manage the day to day operations of the loan, but servicers have taken on the new role of “default engineer” and “disinformation agent”. The servicers have found a new way of increasing profits and it is at the expense of a customer who has no choice in regards to who services their mortgage.
It is likely that the servicing rights to your loan were sold to either the lowest bidder, or Pirates-R-Us Loan Servicing who purchased the note at a fire sale for pennies on the dollar with the knowledge that your loan had some major defect. It is even possible that your loan servicer is not a servicer at all but is pretending that they are forwarding your payments to the true owner when instead they are keeping your monthly payments for their own enrichment (and there is no creditor).
The typical tools servicers use to create a deliberate default include:
• providing disinformation or conflicting information to the homeowner
• failing to follow through with agreements (modifications or repayment)
• misapplying funds/refusing to take payments
• weeks spent trying to correct an issue (phone transferitis followed by disconnect)
• failure to answer QWR or failure to provide requested answers
• failure to acknowledge rescission
• backdating denial letters so homeowners don’t have sufficient time to challenge the modification denial
• forced-place insurance
• assign servicing rights to new servicer
• dual-tracking while modification is under consideration or borrower is in compliance
• revoking modification when homeowner is compliant (no opportunity to appeal)
• bankruptcy payment issues (misapplication of payments pre and post-bankruptcy)
• fabricating document to create the appearance of holder status
• misrepresenting status of relationship to loan
• Fabrication, forgery and other tactics to “perfect” the appearance of holder status
All of these activities serve to confuse the homeowner and require significant amounts of time and frustration to resolve as days, weeks and sometimes months are spent on trying to correct the situation (during work hours). On a regular basis Servicers now participate in calculated fraud in order to create a default. The unsuspecting homeowner can be lulled by their servicer into practices that will increase the chances of foreclosure.
Over the past several months, the Lending Lies team has seen a disturbing trend of servicers taking advantage of people who are elderly, obviously mentally incapacitated, and economically vulnerable. Servicers are now aware of who the best victims are and who to pursue with impunity. The elderly who are on fixed incomes are particularly vulnerable, single mothers who are burdened by work and raising children on their own appear to be targets, and we have seen more and more mature single women with few assets except for their homes being given incorrect information to deliberately force them into arrears (many of these women acquired real estate through divorce or a spouse’s death- and are told they have no survivor rights and the bank refuses to accept payment). These people lack the financial resources to obtain legal assistance, and often are so beaten-down emotionally they have no ability to fight back.
The servicer’s current weapon of choice continues to be the loan modification offer, when the bank has no intention of granting one. During the loan modification process, paper work will be destroyed, customer service reps will claim to not have received paperwork, and the homeowner will be caught in an endless phone transfer loop (followed by an abrupt disconnect of the call in which the homeowner will be forced to start all over). After months of this nearly futile run-around the bank will claim the homeowner doesn’t qualify for a modification- but will then fail to provide a reason for the modification denial or an opportunity to appeal the servicer’s decision (last week Ocwen was sanctioned by the National Mortgage Settlement for this metric violation). Another tactic is to dual-track the customer (proceed with foreclosure while homeowner is in negotiations for a modification).
Unfortunately almost all homeowners are at the mercy of the party who acquires the servicing rights to their Note- and if the homeowner has the misfortunate of their loan being acquired by Ocwen, Nationwide, Bank of America, JPMorgan-Chase, CitiMortgage or Bank of America- the homeowner is almost assured that if they miss one payment during the life of their loan or have some other issue- there will be hell to pay and the bank will make it as difficult as possible to correct the issue.
Without effective counsel, the homeowner is literally at the servicer’s mercy.
Part of the servicer’s modus operandi is emotional warfare. First of all, mortgage issues are complex and most homeowners have no comprehension of what is going on except for what they are told by low-level employees at the banks that are literally practicing law without a license when speaking to homeowners. By keeping the victim confused, on edge, unable to receive concise answers and other gaslighting techniques- they can exponentially increase default odds in their favor. Most homeowners will follow the directions of their loan servicers without question- and are taken advantage by their naiveté and willingness to comply with the servicer’s demands. It is unconscionable that a loan servicer with a conflict of interest is able to advise vulnerable homeowners about saving their home when the servicer has very clear goals of foreclosure.
Over the past nine years, servicers have learned how to “perfect” their default model to ensure foreclosures occur. Now that it is well known that the servicers forge signatures, falsify notarizations, and fabricate documents, the banks have now reverted to “Plan B”. If paperwork they forged and altered over the past six years is a known liability, lenders are now resorting to “lost note” strategies so they can try to start over with a “clean” slate. Once they have convinced the court the note was lost and claim plausible deniability they can use a lost note affidavit to try and correct any earlier issues or oversights that occurred when sloppy fabrication and forgeries were used. The banks can then recreate their foreclosure “storyline” in order to “perfect” their standing. Don’t be fooled by this tactic.
The homeowner’s chance of saving their homes are compromised when their own servicer behaves in predatory ways. Servicers are well aware of how to create a default and who to best target for their crime. The National Mortgage Settlement has proven impotent to stop loan servicers from continuing with their deceptive tactics. Society’s most vulnerable are victimized and have no hope of fighting back against these abusive servicer crime-syndicates with deep pockets, political allies and the courts in their corner. Welcome to the new America.