Friday, August 7, 2009

The Sharks Are Circling

I'm hot on the trail of a story that's making my blood boil. Mortgage servicers, the banks that handle the investments of mortgage lenders, are acting like collection agencies.

You've never missed a payment on your house. You've never even been late. But you do have an application in for a loan modification. Are you a target?

If your loan servicer is IndyMac/OneWest, I was told that you and everyone else whose loan is serviced by them can now expect a phone call within a day or two after the first of the month.

"When can we expect that payment? How will you be making it? Will you be sending a check or paying online? Would you like to pay now by credit card? Can I please make a note of when you expect to pay it?"

The money isn't due yet. There's a two week grace period and you're well within it. But the phone calls will come every month and if you ask why - is it because you've applied for a loan modification?"

"Oh no - it's not just you. We're calling everyone."


I got in touch with IndyMac/OneWest's spokesperson - or I should say I got in touch with her secretary. How do you reach her? It's not easy. The website doesn't offer any options except for a circular route through an automated system if you don't know the name of the person you want. And since OneWest is currently trying to hire a communications person to replace the last one (who went to Fannie Mae), what name can you use? I reverted to research - tracking down the name of a corporate VP through professional websites and asking her to get me in touch. It worked. But I didn't get a call back. Yet.

But officials at a local foreclosure counseling service say they're hearing this a lot. And it's not just mortgages. If you've got a large outstanding debt of any type - mortgage or credit card - companies are apparently being far more aggressive in trying to ensure payment.

The phone calls are regular and they're intimidating.
If you hang up on them today, they'll call back tomorrow.

And remember, these are calls to people who pay their bills on time.

It's pretty nasty, especially since these servicers are the ones that we now know are holding up processing of loan modification applications because their fees are better if borrowers default.

**UPDATE** Spoke with OneWest today - they are looking into it, but these phone calls were news to the person I spoke with. Curiouser and curiouser.

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