How to Protect Yourself From Unauthorized Mortgage Modifications

It’s important to review any mortgage statements or documents you receive. Changes outside of what you originally agreed to should be considered red flags.

 

The Seattle Times | July 9, 2017        The company that holds your mortgage isn’t supposed to extend your loan or alter your monthly payments if you don’t agree to it beforehand. But recent lawsuits argue Wells Fargo changed the terms of home loans held by customers in bankruptcy without their consent.

Wells Fargo allegedly attached loan-modification letters to payment-change notices, forms routinely filed in Chapter 13 bankruptcy cases to authorize preapproved adjustments. Without following the proper procedures, the bank allegedly lowered monthly payments and extended loan terms by years, potentially costing borrowers thousands of dollars in interest.

It’s unclear how many of the unauthorized loan changes Wells Fargo is alleged to have made (the company has denied wrongdoing), but if you’ve filed for bankruptcy, pay attention to what’s happening to your mortgage, especially if you live in a jurisdiction that allows a trustee to make payments on your behalf.

“Even though the consumer might be in a bankruptcy, they should not ignore any written notices that they get from their mortgage servicer,” says John Rao, a bankruptcy expert and attorney with the National Consumer Law Center. “If there’s anything in it that suggests that there’s a payment change or something, you know, they probably want to contact their attorney and just make sure that this is correct.”  Read more here.

Regulators Are Suing Subprime Mortgage Servicer Ocwen for Years of ‘Deceptive Practices’

Fortune | April 21, 2017        For the second time since 2013, the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau on Thursday sued Ocwen Financial over accusations of widespread misconduct in how it serviced borrowers' loans, from foreclosure abuses to a basic failure to send accurate monthly statements.

News of the CFPB accusations plus related legal actions against Ocwen filed by at least 20 states sent shares of Ocwen crashing by nearly 60% in just over an hour, starting after a cease and desist order filed by North Carolina.

CFPB officials said that mortgage servicer Ocwen and its subsidiaries have failed to clean up their act, even after the CFPB ordered Ocwen in December 2013 to fork over $2 billion in relief to harmed borrowers because of similar violations.

"The consumer bureau has uncovered substantial evidence that Ocwen engaged in unfair and deceptive practices," CFPB Director Richard Cordray said, adding that thousands of customers were harmed.  Read more here.

Lenders Ask Court to Toss Foreclosure Verdict Favoring Homeowners

Houston Chronicle | December 24, 2015    Wells Fargo Bank and its mortgage servicer are asking a state district judge in Houston to throw out a jury verdict in favor of a West University couple facing foreclosure and to order a sheriff's sale of their house.  Read more here.

Jury Awards $5.4 Million to Couple After Finding Fraud in Foreclosure Case

Houston Chronicle  |  December 9, 2015   Jury awards couple $5.4 million in foreclosure case against Wells Fargo and its mortgage servicer.  David and Mary Ellen Wolf were several payments behind on their home mortgage and knew that foreclosure loomed.  They were puzzled, though, when a foreclosure notice came early in 2011 from Wells Fargo because they hadn't done business with that bank.  Read more here.