My mortgage servicing and credit reporting nightmare began with a seemingly innocuous mortgage coupon book that I used to make my monthly payments. I had decided to make extra principal payments each month and noted the additional monies on the check and in the appropriate place on my "payment coupon" stub.
I sent my payment in each month using the standard payment coupon book. I later learned my payments (and additional principal) wasn't being applied accurately . Some payments were not credited at all. All payments were made on time, yet they were not being reported to the credit bureaus that way. These and other bank errors were significantly impacting my mortgage and my credit rating for a number of years, without my knowledge. The problem was this: I never received a monthly statement and that meant I didn't have the ability to track and verify that my payments were being applied and reported to the credit bureaus accurately. I blindly trusted my mortgage payments and additional principal payments were being accounted for with accuracy and care. That wasn't the case.
I learned that most of my payments were being erroneously applied as late, causing my additional principal payments to be eaten up by interest, fines and penalties, all having the effect of extending the life of my loan, causing me to pay higher insurance premiums and interest rates. Once I discovered their errors and brought them to the attention of my mortgage company, I assumed the bank would respond immediately. I thought they would be anxious to correct their errors and do whatever was necessary to fix the mess they created.
I thought wrong.
Many credit denials, amortization schedules and disputes over dirty credit reports, it became quite apparent that the bank's numerous accounting errors had grown beyond the point where they could or would clean up their own mess.
The mishandling of my mortgage payments had a Domino effect. The battle to get the bank and credit bureaus to give me back my credit took time, lots of time! False data continued to contaminate my credit reports--and my life--for an unimaginable 10 years.
I was born and raised in New England, where I worked for many years as a real estate paralegal handling mortgage closings and all the complexities that come with buying, selling and refinancing homes. I once held the belief that if I paid my mortgage and bills on time, my credit rating would paint a true and accurate picture of me --a responsible person who paid her bills on time.
I would soon learn that belief was just a myth.
I also believed that if there were errors on my credit report, all I had to do was provide proof that the debt in question was either inaccurate, paid, or not mine, and all would be cleared up.
That belief was shattered too. But in the midst of it all, I came to realize many people were on the same not-so merry-go-round. I wasn't alone. It only felt that way. And that became unacceptable. I wasn't simply fighting for my own credit reputation, at this point I was driven to help legislators and consumers understand the dangers of blindly trusting our mortgage payments were being applied and reported accurately.
I learned that sharing my personal story it helped to humanize the issues that others could relate to. Sharing the knowledge gained through your life's experiences can make a positive difference in the lives of others. This is my story...what's yours?Looking back: A few newspaper clippings highlighting my fight to urge lawmakers to mandate mortgage servicing companies provide borrowers a monthly mortgage statement;
- "Greenfield woman battles the big banks"
- "Legislators back locally proposed loan statement law"
- "New regulation: state defers to federal mortgage statement efforts"
- "To Your Credit: Going to court over bad credit reports"
Articles and Documents
"When Banks Merge, Be Wary and Reassess Your Banker" (Bankrate.com) Read article
"Consumers Suing to Correct Bad Credit Reports" (Bankrate.com) Read article
"7 Steps to Fixing Your Credit Report" (Bankrate.com) Read article
"Who's Policing the Credit Cops?" (Businessweek.com) Read article
Learning about Identity Theft the Hard Way.
My first bout with credit card fraud was easily corrected and noted in a chapter of Give Me Back My Credit! Unfortunately, there would be multiple id theft incidents to follow that were not so easy to rectify. After fighting for 10 years to recover my true and accurate credit rating, fear of losing it again sparked my passion to understand identity theft and its impact. I became a Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist, trained and certified by The Institute of Fraud and Risk Management. Today I continue to promote fraud prevention awareness, support consumer advocacy initiatives and;
- Help consumers recognize their personal responsibility for protecting their financial information and their shared responsibility to practice safe online habits
- Educate individuals about the latest fraud risks, scams and what they can do to protect themselves
- Offer a place to share stories, concerns and ask questions about consumer protection, fraud, cyber-crimes and identity theft
- Provide links to obtain news, opinions, information, and trustworthy experts and resources
- Inspire individuals to become informed and proactive when protecting themselves against fraud and financial harm.