My Parents did not borrow more money than they could repay nor are they out to shirk their obligation to repay their mortgage. In fact, they hold a considerable amount of equity in their property and are current on their payments. They would however like to emerge from a nightmare that they did not create, don't deserve and should never happen in this Country.
The events began in 2009 with a solicitation, in the form of an offer of a loan modification from their mortgage servicer, who at the time was Litton Loan. The servicer made the modification look very attractive to my retired Parents, touting the benefits of a lower monthly payment and reduced interest rate. They would begin the qualification process, and so would the servicer's scheme to possess my Parents home.
The first leg of the scheme involved putting them on trial lowered payments. It was a significant savings as their payments dropped approximately $600 a month. Then the endless hours of faxing and/or mailing required documentation followed. It was a repetitive endeavor as the servicer continually asserted (as it was to many borrowers) as they claimed they never received the paper work or the documentation supplied was incomplete or inadequate.
Then the misapplication of payments would begin by the servicer. My Mother was quick to catch on to this ploy and began phoning in her payments because she could get an immediate confirmation number as proof the payment was made and in a timely manner. Approximately one year from the time the trial payments began my Parents received a certified letter from the servicer that stated that they had not qualified for the HAMP modification and enclosed was an invoice for more than $10,000 which they claim was the difference between their regular monthly installments and the lowered trial payments plus late fees and other fees that had been heaped on. They were given a short period of time to send the funds as the servicer already considered them in default and if it wasn't paid, the foreclosure process would commence.
This was devastating to my Parents and their sleepless nights and arguments between them began. Out of desperation they sought out a remedy to save their home. It was humiliating and totally against their character but they opted to take the advise given them and turned to Bankruptcy! However, 10 months into the bankruptcy their payments being made to the court had now escalated to over $2000 per month and although they had made all the payments required, directly to the Court, the bankruptcy was dismissed. The final disbursement of funds to the servicer totaled over $15,000 and the bank, still wanted more.
Now, the protection of the Court was no more and the fight to find a proper loan accounting continued.
Shortly after the bankruptcy had been dismissed, Litton Loan sold to Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC. My Parents had hopes that this would be a new start and hoped for peace. But no peace would come as this servicer picked up where the other left off.
The first letter of default came within weeks from Ocwen and the process would now start all over. The constant documents required, payments not being posted in a timely manner, if at all, as some payments would find themselves unaccounted for, moved to a suspense account. Mother continued to document her activities and payments to such a degree that they could not deny they were being made, so their next scheme was put into play. Escrow!
Despite the fact that my Parents had for 20 years paid their insurance and property taxes themselves without a required escrow, Ocwen decided to take that benefit away and forced an escrow. For months Mother spent time trying to convince them she wanted no part of the escrow and continued to make the payments, less the escrow. By this time, the stress of years of dealing with this situation took its toll and in January 2012 she was diagnosed with lung cancer but despite treatment, January 2013 testing showed it had spread to her liver. Her second round of treatment and new fight began immediately upon her second diagnosis.
I had only recently learned of their situation and vowed to tend to this matter as Mother certainly could no longer do so and it wasn't long before I realized the complete and total hell that my Parents had endured for years now.
I spent the first few months repeating the same question. How is it possible that innocent families can have their homes ripped away from them, here in America? And so, my long research journey began to find answers.
The more information I learned about this mortgage servicer, the angrier I became, and my letter campaign began. Since my Mother had previously made contact with our State Attorney Generals Office who told her to simply pay her mortgage, it was obvious revisiting that avenue was futile, they either didn't understand or didn't want to.
I wrote to Senators, Congressmen, government agencies, journalists and Attorneys all to no avail. Not one of them acknowledged my pleas. Finally, two replies came, one from my district representative to inform me that they didn't get involved in judicial matters and the last from one of our State Senators stating the same reason. I was once again sick to my stomach. I would fail my dying Mother as no one cared that their home was being stolen from them. Out of desperation I made one last call to a former classmate and she put me in touch with an Attorney that surely could stop this as she too was asking how this could happen?
Long story short, a modification was signed by my Father. It wasn't a HAMP Modification but an in house Modification with Ocwen, which is what they intended to happen. This modification was so one sided it was ridiculous but by this time my Parents choices were slim and Mother was in no shape to be put out of her home. She was now fully involved in Chemo and radiation therapy; fighting to save her life.
Although the modification had been signed, Ocwen never acknowledged it as the default letters continued; payments continued to be returned to us and although I continued to send each and every one back to Ocwen the road to foreclosure was quickly approaching as Ocwen clearly had my Parents on a dual track to foreclosure. I pushed the Attorney for resolution and a settlement was proposed by Ocwen.
The proposed Settlement was stunning.
It was riddled with paragraph after paragraph of considerations for Ocwen but no consideration for my Parents. It effectively had my Parents signing away every right to know what their mortgage balance was, or how Ocwen arrived at the number. They had to sign away their rights to dispute any inaccuracies, miscalculations or how they applied any payments, now and forever. The proposed settlement required my parents sign away their right to ever question Ocwen on anything they would later discover and not agree with.
Each and every paragraph contained waivers for my Parents to sign away their legal rights to hold them accountable. They were effectively asking them to waive all rights pertaining to the accounting or handling of their mortgage. If signed, my parents were agreeing to pay them whatever they demanded and pay taxes on whatever amount Ocwen freely and without explanation, determined they wanted to insert into a 1099 form. They were in charge of all calculations, and expect my Parents to simply trust they will be accurate.
Ocwen did offer to attempt to correct their erroneous credit reporting, however, claimed it would be my Parents responsibility to ensure the credit bureaus complied, noting they can't control the credit bureaus
There was no accurate accounting for my Parents continued payments, nor the $15,000+ dollars in bankruptcy funds they additionally paid Ocwen through the Court, nor was there an updated payment history with balance calculations, attached to their proposed settlement. In the past my Parents received monthly statements (incorrect statements) but they have not received a statement from Ocwen on their account since October 2012 (this is now June 2013).
The correspondence we sent to Ocwen, in an effort to resolve the many accounting errors, continue to go unanswered. Remember the Modification they never acknowledged? They managed to tack another $19,000 worth of capitalization onto that modification, and without benefit of any explanation of what made up this figure. Ocwen wanted my Parents to sign this document, even though it still contained Ocwen's erroneous calculations that falsely noted that two payments were still in default, when they were not.
We provided the proof of payment; showing an Ocwen representative signed in receipt of these payments. This looked like a complete disaster waiting to happen for my Parents, and a clear path to them losing their home. Needless to say, they didn't feel safe signing an agreement that was riddled with miscalculations and falsehoods. They rejected the notion of signing it, and we once again, forwarded the receipts showing all payments have been paid, proving they are not in default, and asked them to review their troubled accounting methods, and provide us with an updated payment history schedule.
All along, my Parents have only wanted Ocwen to correct their accounting flaws and clean up their their erroneous credit reporting. Isn't that something any reasonable mortgage servicing agent would accept as their basic obligation when meeting their duty to account for any borrower's payments?
My parents would have signed any fair settlement proposal that included an accurate accounting of their payments, but what they received was a document that removed every protection a homeowner is entitled to in order to properly defend and protect their rights and home from this very type of predatory behavior. Instead they were asked to sign a one sided, open ended document that left a full range of abuses at the disposal of this servicer.
We are now in search of an Attorney that will help protect my parents and their home from any further threats of a wrongful foreclosure. Someone who understands the magnitude of these ongoing schemes and has the fortitude to hold Ocwen accountable for their mishandling of this mortgage and what appears to be their inability to correct their own accounting errors, before they too, have their home stolen out from underneath them.
The State of Mississippi is a non judicial foreclosure state with no homeowner bill of rights. In other words, the foreclosing party does not have to prove they have the right to foreclosure and the homeowner has limited avenues to protect and retain their property from these predators. The process generally takes 90 days with a sale publication for 30 days. After that the homeowner's property is sold on the courthouse steps to the highest bidder. There is no redemption period for the homeowner.
The days of closing a contract with a handshake are gone along with the character standings of these establishments. Despite the $25 billion settlement that Banks were forced to pay to settle abusive and fraudulent mortgage servicing allegations, it appears as though they continue to operate how they see fit, whether they are violating the terms of a government ordered settlement, or the rights of innocent homeowners, they seem undeterred in their quest to take homes, and the equity in them, by any means necessary, regardless if they have any right or not! Hence the need for a Homeowners Bill of Rights in any non judicial state to allow homeowners the right to save their home from any unlawfully foreclosing party, and forcing them to prove that they have a right to foreclose.
So here are my Parents, tired, worn down, sick, fighting for life with no one coming to their rescue.
These are the facts: My Parents are not behind on their payments and haven't been since the inception of this nightmare yet they face foreclosure. Why does it look like the watchers are not really watching? Oh they pretend to be watching. Some in the media will tell you that this misconduct isn't happening at all, when clearly it is, and that's apparently because the Banks only had their hand slapped. The truth of the matter is the American taxpayers have bailed out these "too big to fail" banks and this is how they repay the American Citizens. They steal their homes by way of these servicers lying, cheating and stealing practices.
I don't know how this story will end as it continues to be written. As with most of life's challenges I am not privy to the grand plan. I do hope however that every reader of my Parents story scream their injustice because the chances of it happening to someone you love is great. Great because those we vote into office seem to turn and look the other way, those that are in a position to give voice to these practices don't and the cries of the American families being displaced and losing the American dream continues to fall on deaf ears.
I no longer recognize my Country. It was once a place where deals were struck with a handshake and the character of its people were strong. These illegal and immoral practices will not change within the political world but can be changed with the voices of Americans. It is often said that one voice alone will go unheard but the voices of many affect change.
Alisa B. Mississippi
If you can offer assistance to this family, please leave them your thoughts and information below. If you would like to get in touch with Alisa, feel free to email me directly and I will put you in touch with her. If you are Ocwen: Really? Do what's right and give this family the peace of mind, dignity (& accurate loan accounting) they deserve. Just step up and do what's right!