Think that after a multimillion dollar lawsuit and settlement that the big banks would start playing by the rules and treating their customers right? If so, the bridge salesman convention would LOVE to have you drop by.
Get ready for the next mortgage scam by the banks.
Single Point of Contact Scam
One of the things that the big mortgage banks were supposed to do to help their customers and stop mortgage foreclosure fraud was provide a single point of contact for borrowers to deal with on issues like mortgage modification, refinance or foreclosure avoidance. Before, borrowers were forced to call some 1-800 number where a faceless phone drone would do the standard dance. The borrower provided all of his or her information, and then the person on the phone would tell them what they needed to do.
Unfortunately, customers found that they had to start over every time they called. One mortgage modification specialist would say that they needed certain documents, then another one would say that they needed additional, or different documents, until finally, one day, a foreclosure notice showed up in the mail because the borrower had “failed” to comply with the necessary procedures.
By having a single point of contact, borrowers were supposed to be able to avoid this mess and lenders were supposed to be prevented from taking advantage of it by constantly changing the rules. However, the big lenders have found a way around this rule by, naturally, obeying the letter but not the spirit of the law.
How Banks Still Don’t Provide a Single Point of Contact
It turns out that getting around the requirement to provide a single contact for borrowers is all too easy.
First, the lender sends out a notice. That notice provides a name of a bank employee who will be the single point of contact for that borrower all through the mortgage modification process. This letter complies nicely with the law.
The scam starts when the borrower actually tries to contact this person. A single employee, of course, only works certain hours each day. If those hours happen to be 7:00 to 3:00 Eastern time and the borrower is on the West Coast where that is 4:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon, well that’s too bad. Not that it matters, because the so-called point of contact will never answer their phone anyway.
Many borrowers report that they can’t even leave a message because their contact’s voice mail box is always full. Those who can leave messages report that they are never called back, no matter when they leave a message or how many times they call.
The only answer?
Press to be transferred to another representative who will “try to help” and once again, mortgage customers are playing phone roulette with the banks and their representatives about what documents they have to provide, and to whom, and by when, and so on.
If you get stuck in this situation, documentation is your friend. Keep a journal of each and every call you make, including the time and date, who you make it to, and whether or not you leave a message. Be sure to leave a message with every call. Assuming your point of contact is a real person (maybe) and that he or she has not been instructed to not deal with you (maybe), then being an aggressive squeaky wheel might just get you the actual contact you need. When you do transfer to another representative make sure you tell them that you have called your contact many times and never gotten a return call. Those calls are recorded, and your constant communication that your single point of contact is not doing what they are supposed to be doing may eventually be helpful to your case whether in a foreclosure hearing or other legal process.
Do your best to follow the process and get your loan fixed, but if it gets too far out of hand, report the lender to your state’s Attorney General, and to consumer groups. You may even reach out to a reporter. Remind them of the settlement and the requirement that there be a single point of contact and then offer them your meticulous records detailing how your lender isn’t following through.
In the end, pay when you can, and keep all of your options open and hopefully, you’ll come out of the situation O.K.