Foreclosuresurvivor's Blog

Surviving Foreclosure

Wilshire is still at it

I hope Bank of America pays victims of Wilshire just like it had to for Countrywide.

One church member’s battle to save her home from foreclosure became an entire crowd’s fight last Thursday, May 20. The Northwest Bronx Community Clergy Coalition, along with members of New Day Church, met at noon in front of the Bank of America at 248 E. Fordham Road.

The idea for the protest began when Edda Lopez of New Day shared her dilemma with the church congregation: Bank of America had just told her they were going to foreclose her home at Devoe Terrace. But they notified her only one month in advance.

It all started nearly six months ago when Lopez began having difficulty making her mortgage payments. She had fallen ill and also lost her husband, and it seemed like her life was breaking down at once. Wilshire Credit Corporation, whichheld her mortgage, offered her what is known as a loan modification of her mortgage — she would get to pay a reduced rate, almost $1,000 less per month than in the past, for a period of three months. If Lopez made timely payments, Wilshire told her, they would consider modifying the loan to the lower rate for good.

“I said yes, of course! I signed an official agreement and everything,” said Lopez. Sure enough, after three months, Wilshire sent her a letter saying that her mortgage had been modified and would stay at the low rate for the next five years. “I was happy, but that kind of scared me,” admitted Lopez. “I said, only five years? I thought it was going to be forever!”

It didn’t even last the five months. She then received a letter that her new payment would be $3500 a month — back up to the original high rate she had been paying before the modification. The letter was from Bank of America because, as Lopez learned, they had acquired her loan from Wilshire.

Lopez asked a friend who works in real estate to call the bank and ask some questions. When he did, they told him that the house was in foreclosure because Lopez had not been paying her loan. They said the house would be sold off on May 24.

“To think, if I hadn’t asked my friend to call them, I may have never even known,” said Lopez. “It would have been a done deal. I never got a letter telling me I was in danger of losing my home, nothing.”

Lopez went straight to her community at the church and they organized a protest.

“We fully recognize that Edda is one of tens of thousands of people in the Bronx who are being screwed by the banks one way or another,” said Ivan Braun of the NWBCCC. “She is a member of our community, so we’re going to stick by her.”

On the morning of the proposed rally, NWBCCC received a call from someone representing the CEO at Bank of America. He asked them to call off the protest. The bank postponed the foreclosure but otherwise did not budge on their foreclosure plans. NWBCCC and New Day members went ahead with the rally. A hundred people came out: 27 members of New Day Church, an equal number of people directly associated with NWBCC, and a number of other locals from the community.


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“Ain’t no power like the power of the people, ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop,” they chanted, holding signs and making speeches directly outside the bank’s windows.

Following the rally, Braun reflected: “I think it was very successful. In spite of what the guy from the CEO’s office said, they’re going real slow. They still aren’t recognizing her situation. So we saw this as a necessary step. We’re still hopeful that they will see the light.”

Bank of America insists Lopez’ load was never “modified” in the first place. Unfortunately, she cannot find the letter that outlined her modification, though she says that her son, for one, witnessed it. She showed him the letter when she first received it.

Bank of America has now offered Lopez the chance to re-apply for the modification she had already received from Wilshire.

“They want me to do it all over again,” she said. “Give them bank statements, try and prove I deserve the modification. So I don’t even know if they’ll accept it this time.”

She has until May 28 to get the paperwork in. Members of Northwest Bronx Alliance and her church will clearly be pulling for her.


June 8, 2010 Posted by | News, Wilshire Credit Corporation | Leave a comment

Countrywide customers to be repaid $108 million

Countrywide customers to be repaid $108 million for overcharges Bank of America agrees to create a fund to reimburse homeowners who were assessed improper fees, the FTC announces. At least 200,000 homeowners whose mortgages were serviced by Countrywide will be eligible for reimbursement. (Brian Vander Brug, Los Angeles Times / June 8, 2010) By Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times June 8, 2010 E-mail Print Share Text Size la-fi-countrywide-mortgages-20100608 Reporting from Washington — People struggling to keep their homes as the housing market collapsed faced additional hurdles if their mortgages were serviced by Countrywide Financial Corp. — inflated fees for property inspections, appraisals and even lawn mowing, the Federal Trade Commission said. Now Bank of America, which bought the Calabasas lender in 2008, has agreed to refund those overcharges — in some cases amounting to thousands of dollars — as part of a $108-million settlement announced Monday. » Don’t miss a thing. Get breaking news alerts delivered to your inbox. “Life is hard enough for homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgage. To have a major loan servicer like Countrywide piling on illegal and excessive fees is indefensible,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. The settlement is the largest for a mortgage servicing case and one of the largest ever by the agency. At least 200,000 homeowners whose mortgages were serviced by Countrywide from 2005 until its sale in July 2008 will be eligible for reimbursement of their overpayments. After a federal court approves the settlement, the FTC said it would notify eligible homeowners in a process that could take several months. The FTC website has more information. The agency began investigating Countrywide’s loan-servicing business amid complaints about fees charged to homeowners who had fallen behind on their mortgages and were in default, or who were trying to save their homes through bankruptcy. Once the nation’s largest mortgage lender, Countrywide has faced a variety of legal actions for its role in the mortgage meltdown, including a civil suit by the Securities and Exchange Commission accusing co-founder Angelo Mozilo and two other executives of misleading investors about the company’s financial condition. Mortgage service companies can charge homeowners who have fallen behind on their loans for services that protect the lender’s financial interest in the property. But as the housing market collapsed, Countrywide created subsidiaries to do such work, then marked up the price of those services 100% or more, charging homeowners the fees to increase company profits in bad economic times, the FTC said. Countrywide also failed to tell customers when it added charges to their mortgages and made “false or unsupported claims” to borrowers about how much they owed on their loans, the agency said. The marked-up fees were collected as part of repayment plans, foreclosures or bankruptcies. “This settlement should be seen as an admission by those behind Countrywide that they made a habit of profiting off the misfortune of their most troubled borrowers,” said Sen. Charles M. Schumer (D-N.Y.), who pressed the FTC in May 2008 to investigate alleged abuses. “These fines will help repay the company’s victims, many of whom have still yet to recover from the abuse they suffered at the hands of Countrywide.” Bank of America agreed to settle the charges “to avoid the expense and distraction associated with litigating the case,” it said in a statement. The settlement involved no admission of wrongdoing, the bank said. The settlement requires the company to stop such practices and make changes to its procedures for homeowners in bankruptcy, including sending borrowers monthly statements noting new fees. Michael Kassing, 39, a software developer in Sacramento, said he paid Countrywide about $1,200 in fees when he was in default on his mortgage for about eight months from 2007 to 2008 for services such as photos of the home. “How much of that is overblown? I have no clue,” he said. But Kassing doubts the total for all of Countrywide’s customers is only $108 million, which would average $540 for the estimated 200,000 people in default during the covered period. He said he’d gladly give up his piece of the settlement and have the case go to trial, potentially leading to greater refunds or more information about other Countrywide practices. But Lucy Morris, the lead FTC attorney on the case, said that under the law the agency can’t seek penalties or fines for Countrywide’s overcharges. The agency only can stop the practices and get money back for consumers.

June 8, 2010 Posted by | News | Leave a comment