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Babble Voices: Mocha Momma Has Something to Say

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Wednesday
Nov092011

How I'm Part of the 99%

Too many details here would be too much, but I'll say enough that you get the gist.

Today I read the blog of a woman I've known virtually for a long time, Rock and Drool. She opens with a sentence that I could have written.

"It's the same old story, heard from thousands of families across the country."

In fact, I did write something similar to that just last week when I was flip-flopping over whether or not to write about what Bank of America is doing with my loan. A loan that, I might add, I did not get through them. They bought it from someplace else. I should have expected that it would be bought since I went through a mortgage company to buy a home during a crushing divorce where my ex-husband won our house and all the contents. But I won't get into all that.

This was my first house that I bought all by myself. Of that, I am extremely proud. I started working for the school district in my town 17 years ago and have not only made a steady income but I have done everything possible to earn more money each year by jumping through the pay scale hoops of getting another degree. But I won't get into all that, either.


Photo credit David Shankbone


When I bought the house I did what I was supposed to do and get homeowner's insurance. A few months ago, out of the blue, Bank of America told me that I didn't have it so I called my insurance agent to have him send the appropriate paperwork. After that, BofA placed forced lender insurance on me and since that raised the cost of my monthly payment so much I had to pay it until I couldn't pay it anymore as I waited for them to fix it. According to the bank, if you can't pay it in full, then you don't bother paying at all. Which means more fees are racked up on top of that.

I was told this, word for word: "We don't accept partial payments."

Even if it's the bank's fault, even if I have homeowner's insurance, even if the fees piled on top of the original mortgage payment shouldn't have been added on. They don't accept any money at all. Can you imagine what this does to people who don't have any savings? To people who have lost their jobs? To families who are trying to renegotiate their loans as the bank refuses?

They become the 99%.

Rather, they become aware that they're the 99%. And they can't get loans elsewhere because, by the time it's all said and done, families can't move their loans because  their credit score has dropped. Bank of America knows this and as the King of Foreclosures they can do whatever it is they want to their customers.

I get why people are so angry at seeing Christmas commercials and why petitions are starting left and right and why regular, educated, hard-working Americans are taking to the streets to occupy and lend their voices to the movement.

These people are normal. They have kids and dogs and jobs that they've held for 17 years. They work in the lowest-paid but highest-required degree social institutions and donate money to social injustice to help other people. They take care of their sick parents. They help other people when they can by sending them to community organizations or by just paying a light bill. They do the best they know how to do. They never think they were going to end up here.

At least I didn't think I would.
« 99% Redux | Main | Privatizing Public Education »

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Reader Comments (85)

There are no consequences for banks screwing over people who have done nothing wrong. They are virtually untouchable, even when they are the ones making the mistake. They can ruin or save lives at their discretion, and often-times the reasoning is random... as if their willingness to listen or help is reliant on whether they had a good bowel movement that morning.

And yet, we're just supposed to sit back and shut-up, or else we're "unpatriotic, lazy, pathetic, whiners."

That's the new American Way!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDave2

This is maddening and horrible. I'm so sorry, Kelly. I have heard so many stories like this.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSuebob

your last paragraph makes my stomach hurt. I've never been one to tantrum, but you know what? this just isn't fair.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie O'Dea

You want to know what I just did? I just stumbled this post because it's stories like this that will help get the attention of the evil-doers. I really, truly believe that. I'm so happy you shared this even though (through some strategic Twitter on-looking) I know this was a very hard "Press Publish" decision for you.

Be loud. Be heard.

xoxo

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJess

BOA is the devil. A completely horrible situation. Hopefully you will be able to get it resolved at some point. Have you considered speaking with an atty. Wait, nevermind as I type that I realize how stupid that is, because honestly even with an atty & the fact that BOA was the one in error here they don't listen to anyone.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

i'm so glad you posted this. today, my story made it all the way to bank of america's presidents office and they are handling our file directly. whether or not i win this, it can be done!! the 99% of us, we have to stick together. we can accomplish ANYTHING.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

I can't say it any better than Jess did.

Sending you love, sweet girl. Keep fighting.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJenny, Bloggess

I got the same "We don't accept partial payments" speech from Bank of America back when we had our mortgage through them. I mailed in a check for my mortgage payment minus fees they charged me that they shouldn't have and they mailed my check back stamped with a "No partial payments" stamp across it. After many years of BofA screwing up my payments (one year they even forgot to pay my property taxes), I refinanced. With Countrywide. Who then became Bank of America. It was a horrible, horrible vicious cycle. We recently built a new house and when I got my loan I made the loan officer promise me they never sell their loans to Bank of America. She promised. Hopefully she can keep that promise.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterChristine

This makes my heart hurt so much. Hugs hugs hugs.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBoston Mamas

I have retweeted you. Hope it goes viral. Wish I could do more.

Good luck, and, no, you're not alone.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLibby

It scares me how fleeting everything is. I'm watching a mother and brother go without work as they try desperately to hold things together. I have my own crap, so do so many of those around me. I wish you peace and I hope things can be resolved for you, somehow.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkateanon

This is maddening, just maddening. I am at the point in my life where I am ready to buy a house, but I won't, I just won't, because of stories like this. No matter how you try to avoid the 'big guys,' banks like Bank of America will end up owning your loan and finding a way to screw you over. I am so sorry this is happening to you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEmily S.

It is so sickening to know this happens. I have a good friend who has found herself in a very similar boat, jumping through hoops paying fees until she had nothing left, considering bankruptcy to save the home she and her son live in. I am so sorry you are having to deal with this.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelissa S., SoChick!

I wish I could do something more. I am sorry you had this story to share, but I am glad you published it.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAmanda

Enraged.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

US Bank did something similar to us.
It's straightened out...for the moment...but I have no faith that it won't happen again.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthepsychobabble

Thank you for sharing. Give Them Hell.
Corporate America sucks ass.
Hugs to you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Dalai Mama--Dawn

Be the squeaky wheel. Tell anyone you can. Send your story to any and all news source and blog. Make your story known, and you will get help.

I also have a Bank of America loan and did not start out with them. It may be cheesy to say that my heart goes out to you, but it really does. My husband is a teacher, and I am home to raise our kids. I don't know what would happen to us if we couldn't afford any ridiculous and unnecessary fees the bank through at us. We would literally be homeless. I can't believe what is happening to you and all these other hard-working people. It really breaks my heart, and if things don't turn around soon...ugh...I shudder at the thought. Good luck to you and your family!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLucy

I also ran a 99% post this morning, but more so make make people realize, we are ALL the 99%.

Fact.

And the more people realize this and lend their voices to stop this, the closer we get to closing the gap.

I was a casualty. More so than you could ever imagine, in a way I am not even strong enough to talk about out loud yet. I get it.

I wish you so much strength.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrittany

That's terrible. I knew that people were being screwed over by BoA and the rest, but I never knew they Refused to take money. That is Bullshit. It's no wonder people couldn't keep afloat if they won't accept less. I can't imagine how that can be seen as anything Other than a trick to force people to lose their homes. Learning that would be enough to make me take all business away from BoA even if I never had problems if I had any business through them. I'll remember that next time someone suggests something that is connected to them.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. I really hope that something can be done for you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKanriah

Kelly, email me.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMaggie @maggiedammit

I'm sorry.
Was getting my hair cut today and learned the lady I've been going to for >10 years is losing her home in a few weeks to foreclosure. Luckily, I knew my former next door neighbors had just moved to Texas and had an empty house in Atlanta just sitting there, and now they're going to rent to my barber. She's happy. I hope your story ends well somehow.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterthe muskrat

http://consumerist.com/2011/03/patrick-rodgers-describes-how-he-foreclosed-on-wells-fargo-step-by-step.html

OK, this may not help you specifically, but read the article. It's about how a homeowner foreclosed on Wells Fargo when they tried to pull what sounds similar to what BoA is doing to you. At least, it may help you feel better.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMadeleine

This is shameful, what BoA gets away with. I'm sorry that you are dealing with this. Fight hard.
*Hugs*

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterElizabeth

I feel for you. I lost my house just over a year ago, and I too tried to make partial payments (my bank was 5/3). I'm wondering if the reason they don't take partial payments is that they have more legal leverage than if they had those payments? I also had my loan renegotiated twice just to have them raise my monthly payment a month later both times to a level that was impossible to meet. It really is ridiculous. I ended up having to file bancruptcy and walk away from my home. Neither of which makes me happy or proud.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie

God. Seeing red. I wish I had an answer for you. Sending love.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMir

Big hug to you, Kelly. And it was so brave of you to share your story. You're right. It is maddening. And until something changes, we continue to live this way. It sucks. And I'm really sorry. Again.

Much love,

Shelly

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShelly Kramer

Thank you so much for writing what I've been trying to find the words to say. This is absolutely perfectly written. Love to you, from another 99%-er.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAubrey Anne

My heart aches for you. Being in a situation where I know I will mostly likely be out of work soon, I understand doing the best you can only to find out it's not even close to enough. Hugs and love. Sending you good vibes for a brighter future.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeri

What would Tyler Durden do?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex J

Am reading this with tears in my eyes, Kelly. Thanks for not being the silent majority.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMom101

We bough our house through Countrywide then it went to BoA where they too forgot to pay our property taxes. We then refinanced to get away from BoA only to have them buy our mortgage back. Part of me is glad it wasn't just me but most of me is OUTRAGED that this is happening to so many normal people who are so vital to everyday life.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermoosh in indy.

I know how you feel. BofA acquired my two loans after they bought Countrywide. And I'm suing BofA because they screwed up the second mortgage. It's a long story, but suffice it to say, both Countrywide and BofA failed to honor a federal bankruptcy court order, badly messing up my second mortgage.

My bankruptcy attorney advised me to contact an attorney that specializes in suing the banks over these practices. My case is pending now. His fees should be paid as part of the settlement. I have fully documented proof that I was staying current so the case should be a simple thing.

My advice, talk to a bankruptcy attorney to see if they can recommend someone to go after BofA. It probably won't cost you anything. If you want, email me and I'll see how else I can help, especially if you're in Tennessee where I live and my attorney can probably help you.

Either way, my heart goes out to you!!! The best of luck to you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLes

Here via Liz's tweet. This is awful & I'm so sorry you are in this situation. I'll do whatever I can to help spread your story.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKH99

I'm so sorry. I have no words.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisa

As you know I am a single mother as well. In January I tried to refinance my home. I have a credit score in the 800's. I had never had a late mortgage payment in 9 + years. My credit card payments were always on time. No bounced checks, no overdrafts no nothing and I had been with Wells Fargo for 13 YEARS.

They completely refused to even deal with me. I didn't make enough money, the woman told me. Never mind that I had managed to pay my mortgage on time for 9 YEARS, no, that meant nothing, please everything else I listed above. The refi would have shaved $800 off my mortgage. The B..( fill in the rest), told me "we are working to help you stay in your home' and then proceeds to shove me off onto two other types of refi's that would have RAISED my monthly bill by about $500.00

The amount of sleep I have lost worrying about paying my mortgage, what I could have done with that $800 every month, how that would have changed my day to day living situation....

To this day I still want to put my fist through a wall when I think about it and then I read your story and I just want to scream. They are a bunch of crooks. Literal thieves. I am so sorry you are going through this. So incredibly sorry.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterjessica

Found this through twitter - and it is literally my exact situation. Thanks for writing about it, and sharing. We'll get through it!

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKelly

These kinds of stories are crazy. My mortgage is with BofA and I haven't had any issues with them and they've been helpful the last couple of years. However, hearing stories like this make me want to move my business away from them even if I haven't had issues personally. My question is this, does anyone know of a bank that is actively trying to take business away from BofA and make it relatively easy for consumers to do so?

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBnpositive

I cannot, for the life of me, understand what they get out of pushing people, who are willing and wanting to pay their legitimate payments, out of their homes.

I want to beat someone up for you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterinthefastlane

Thank you for having the courage to post this.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermyblackfriendsays

We had to "short-sell" our house back in 2007 to avoid forclosure. Last year we got a letter from BoA demanding the balance. We called them & laughed at them. Our credit is ruined for at least 6 more years. I really don't want to rent this ugly little house in this shady neighborhood where my kids can't go outside to play.
I'm sorry that you have to deal with this crap.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered Commentercatizhere

This isn't right. I'm so sorry.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLauren

I haven't dealt with BofA in years over checking policies, I shudder to think how they can screw up a mortgage. Fight back Kelly! This is very very wrong.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNora

I'm glad you wrote about this, and I hope that your voice is loud enough to make some change occur. Love you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAvitable

It was very brave of you to tell your story. I hate that this has happened to you and so many others.

Did they take the forced placed insurance off? (Being an insurance agent we deal with this all the time.) Once the insurance company verifies you have insurance the bank is supposed to cancel the force placed insurance since you can't insure a home twice. Hope every thing gets straightened out for you.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKarenp

I love you. Believe me when I say I know how hard it is. I KNOW.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAnissa

Long story but like so many. This happened to us last month.

Tonight my partner and I received an email from Bank of America that our mortgage payment had not been made and they were referring us to a credit reporting agency. 

This was a big surprise as we had paid our mortgage on time, as we have done every_single_month of our home ownership, through two homes over the past 17 years.

After first getting hung up on for no reason on our part, we learned the following:
1. While our payment was made on time, it was .20 short (a $xx.49 instead of $xx.69). 
2. Like many millions of homeowners, we pay our bills through "bill-pay" through our credit union/bank, and we expect our mortgage payment to be the SAME amount every month, and therefore simply put through the bill-pay without looking at our statement.
3. Because of the $.20 shortage on our payment, BofA cut a check for the amount we sent and mailed back our payment to us yesterday, marking us as a missed payment.
4. Even though we electronically paid our mortgage, they "snail mailed" our payment back to us, which may take up to 10 days.
5. That date we may receive a refund check from BofA could be as late as 10/28 and if we do not make the correct payment ($.20 more!) by 10/31 we will be delinquent and have our credit impacted.
6. They will be charging us a late fee.
7. Apparently, after insisting on speaking with a supervisor, we learned from her that BofA has received 10s of 1000s of calls as WE ARE NOT THE ONLY homeowners they have done this to.

We were told by the supervisor that prior to October 1, if a payment was short by a few cents, they would pull the difference from your escrow account. Now they say there is a NEW REGULATION that "prevents" them from doing that. So instead of just processing the payment and notifying us (or homeowners in general), they spent the staff time, paper and postage to cut a check and mail us back our payment.

We believe their intent is to accomplish at minimum a couple of things:
1. Collect a late fee from every mortgage they do this to - imagine how much added income that would be to their coffers.
2. Crap/blame "new regulations" and take it out on the homeowner.

Please note that we still have no idea were the additional $.20 increase has come from on our mortgage payment. Had we not called we would have spent the rest of the month thinking we had paid our mortgage - as MANY others are most likely believing as it can take up to 10 days to receive notification via a BofA check in the amount they paid - and then wonder why we had a late payment.

This change has placed us and many many other homeowners into a pool at BofA of "pending reporting to delinquent payment" credit reporting. All it will take is one employee making a mistake and we and others could be inaccurately reported and have our credit ratings lowered for - in our case - $xx.20!!!

We wonder how many other people have been placed at risk by BofA's appalling conduct this month? And how much money they will rake in via the self-created "late fees?"

*** After about 2 hours on the phone we were able to have the late fee REMOVED from our account, and filed a complaint. We happen to have savings from which we can draw a second payment from and sent a new "bill-pay" electronic payment this evening so as to reduce our odds that we would end up in a delinquent reporting classification. We are lucky. How many people have double their mortgage available every month to quickly re-pay as they wait for their snail-mail refund to turn around and repay with???

Additionally, we specifically chose to purchase our home through the home builder's mortgage company and NOT a "too-big-to-fail" bank as we purchased in a state that our beloved 25 year + credit union does not service. Best intentions, the home builder sold our loan to BofA before we made it to the car after signing the loan docs. Like millions of other homeowners, the only way to now change our mortgage holder is to refinance - that is - pay a loan fee, jump through all the hoops regarding documentation, tax filings, income proof, credit reports, pay points, appraisal, etc etc. We're stuck with the Death Star of banks.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHolly

Kelly, so angry on your behalf. Sick with anger.

Holly, I had a very similar experience last weekend with Citimortgage. I wasn't going to write about it because frankly, I felt ashamed. After reading Kelly's post, I think I need to swallow my pride and do it.

November 9, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Marsh

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