Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bank of America's Moving Target Strikes Again

Earlier this month I wrote about how Bank of America is demanding that I hit the bulls eye on their moving target or they will initiate foreclosure actions against me.  I have concluded that they are using a moving target because the amount that they demanded that I pay before January 26th kept changing.  Clearly they have been assessing unknown and unexplained fees on me apparently every 1.5 - 2 weeks.  I've tried to get a simple explanation for this but Bank of America has made that nearly impossible.

So as I reported in my January 10th blog posting, I sent a payment for $1,046.20 on that day.  At the time that I made that payment, the last demand from Bank of America was for me to pay that exact amount by January 26th.  Again, as I've already reported, I tried calling Bank of America that same day to 100% confirm that amount but I never got an answered phone call from any of the alleged account managers or their supposed supervisors.  So I sent the exact drop dead amount that was listed on their last notice to me.

Today I received two notices from Bank of America.

The first informed me that I apparently now have an entirely new "account manager".  The name listed on the letter is in fact the same name listed in the email that I openly posted on this blog on January 17th.  Time will tell if this change makes a single difference.

The second notice, (dated January 14th), that I received today from Bank of America acknowledged that they had in fact received the aforementioned $1,046.20 payment that I sent on January 10th.  Even though that was the last amount that they were demanding by January 26th, this new notice essentially says that the payment was not good enough.   They apparently have now added my (current) January payment plus associated fees onto the ultimate amount that was due by their January 26th deadline.  They did this without any warning or explanation. Again changing the rules, moving the target or pick whatever other expression that you prefer.

Below I've listed their conclusion on the notice that I received today.  I'm breaking it into two pieces to highlight the absurdity inherent in it.
"We previously sent a notice informing you of the amount needed to reinstate your loan."
Yes they sent me two notices listing the amount needed to reinstate my loan.  The first one was dated December 17th and listed that amount as $1,961.03.  The second (and last) such notice that I received was dated December 26th and it listed that amount as $1,046.20.

Since I received the first "Notice of Intent to Accelerate and Foreclose"up until my payment sent on January 10th I have paid a grand total of  $1,994.82.  No matter what way you slice it I HAVE PAID THE "AMOUNT NEEDED TO REINSTATE..." my loan based on both of their own notices.

"The acceleration date of January 26, 2013 provided on that notice remains in effect. If the amount due is not received by the specified acceleration date, foreclosure proceedings may begin or continue."
Apparently because they have now decided to change that amount (again) to include THE CURRENT MONTH'S PAYMENT, apparently I'm still in danger of foreclosure. Never mind the fact that they chose to send this to me so that it arrived AFTER THEIR OWN DEADLINE WAS PASSED.  If they insist on continually moving the target, the least that they could do is notify me of that fact before their self imposed deadline.

BTW - Has anyone ever heard of a bank threatening to foreclose because the current month's payment has not been made yet?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Apparently Bank of America is Reading This Blog

Today I got an email from someone claiming to be from Bank of America.  For all I know they could be totally legit but I don't know that for sure at this point.  Given the email address that they sent to I'm assuming that it is in connection to this blog.  Good, I'm glad they are reading.  

I told you that I would share the details of my fight with you so below I've provided the text of that email.  Keep in mind, I've received similar nice sounding letters from Bank of America. Unfortunately those past words were never manifested into good deeds and open honest communication.

Dear Mr. Liebmann,  
 My name is Vaughn Davis  with Bank of America Home Loans and I would like to introduce myself as your dedicated customer relationship manager. I know this is a challenging time for you and the different programs and options we will be working through together can be complex. I will help you navigate these steps and stay with you until we’ve reviewed all assistance options you may qualify for. Bank of America Home Loans has several programs designed to help homeowners who are having trouble making their monthly mortgage payment, and it is possible one could help you. Regardless of the outcome of this process, I’ll be your contact to guide you and keep you informed throughout it. You can reach me at 877-471-4367 ext 226117. My office hours are Monday through Friday 8:00am-5:00pm.
Thank you for being a valued customer. 
Vaughn Davis
Social Media Team
Office of the CEO and President Bank of America Home Loans
8:00am - 5:00pm EST (Monday - Friday)
Phone: 877.471.4367 ext 226117|Fax: 866.255.4518

Try Local Groups If You Need Help

Earlier this week I met with a local nonprofit that specializes in helping struggling homeowners.  I spent 2 hours with the representative and she spelled out the entire modification process for me.  She has a background in banking and it was very clear that she knows the process.  Knowing that you have a knowledgeable person standing in your corner is a huge help in relieving stress.  Now I know the process, I know the numbers and I know that I have help.

If you are fighting the bank, you should get someone in your corner too.  If you are in the Milwaukee area try contacting one of the following organizations. If you are not in Milwaukee, try an affiliated organization or try an appropriate elected official.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I told you so...

Last week I wrote about the fact that Bank of America has made it nearly impossible for me to get a simple answer to a simple question.  Last week I only wanted to know the exact amount that they were requiring me to pay by their January 26th deadline.  This figure has been changing without notice or explanation so I wanted to simply get the exact figure so that I could SEND THE EXACT AMOUNT.

Again, as I detailed previously, I couldn't get anyone to answer that question so I simply sent in the TOTAL AMOUNT listed on the last notice that Bank of America sent.  I knew exactly what was going to happen and no matter how hard I tried, they wouldn't let me avoid it.

I literally hate to say it but...I told you so....

  1. Although I left a message for my alleged account manager and her supervisor last week, I still have not received a call or any other response from either of them.  
  2. Today I received a bill that included yet another $30 more than what they sent just 1.5 - 2 weeks ago.  

So are they going to foreclose because I came up $30 short after they assessed another weekly mystery fee?

Last week I sent in the full payment that was listed on my last notice, so are these unexplained weekly $30 fees going to stop now?

Now that I paid the full amount that they were demanding before January 26th, will they free me from this account manager situation?

Given the fact that Bank of America has decided not to communicate with me in any meaningful way, these questions are of course totally rhetorical.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Where do I get a simple answer?

Today I tried to call Bank of America to 100% confirm the drop dead amount that they are requiring before their January 26th deadline.  The reason that I tried to call to get this information is because that amount has been changing over very short periods of time without warning, notice or an explanation.  But once again they made the task of getting a simple answer to a simple question impossible.

I called the Bank of America phone number that is listed on my latest notice from them.  I provided my loan number to the automated phone system and it again directed me to my alleged "account manager".  That alleged person has not returned any of my messages from several weeks ago so I wasn't expecting much when I realized where they were sending my call again.

I think that I may need to draw a diagram or a flow chart or something to describe what happened next.  Maybe this will suffice:

  1. Once again I got a voice mail but at least this time the greeting appeared to be from an actual person.  She said that if she didn't get back to me within a business day or if it was an emergency, I should call her supervisor and she listed yet another number.  
  2. Since I was mailing a payment today and wanted to confirm the exact right amount, I called the alleged supervisor's number.  That call sent me to yet another voice mail for another woman that was not available. Her message said that if she didn't get back to me in 2 business days or if the call was an emergency, that I should call her supervisor at what was now a third phone number.  
  3. So I called that number and was prompted to provide an extension number.  But the previous woman's voice mail didn't give me an extension number, it only gave me a name.  So I hit the option for a directory but then the phone system asked me to enter a pin number.  Obviously I didn't have that either, so I hung up without getting to speak to a single person.
  4. I then called the number for the woman in item 2 and left a message. If she is anything like the people that she supervises, I will never hear from her.  I'm not even sure why I left a message since the only thing that I wanted to ask was "WHAT IS THE EXACT AMOUNT THAT I MUST PAY TODAY!!??!!"
  5. Since Bank of America has made it virtually impossible for me to actually speak to someone (ANYONE!) on the phone, I looked at the latest notice and sent the amount past due that was listed on it.  
So today I just sent Bank of America $1,046.20 which according to their last notice is the full amount needed before January 26th.  Will it be enough? I don't know, and Bank of America apparently doesn't want to tell me.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Trying to Hit the Bank's Ever Moving Target

On Christmas Eve I received Bank of America's "Notice of Intent to Accelerate and Foreclosure".  That notice advised me that if I didn't pay $1,961.03 by January 26th that they would proceed with foreclosure.  That amount included two mortgage payments, normal late fees and other "uncollected costs".  Later that month I called the bank to make a  payment but was rerouted to the "account manager" that was allegedly assigned to me.  As previously stated, I still have not heard back from that alleged person.

Being unable to actually speak with someone from Bank of America, I sent a $948.62 payment using a certified bank check. Having no trust in them at this point I also sent it via U.S.P.S. Express Mail so that I could track the delivery of the payment.

A few days ago I received the latest notice from Bank of America.  In it they acknowledge that they did receive that $948.62 payment that I sent weeks earlier.  They also noted that the partial payment doesn't stop their intent to foreclose on me after the January 26th deadline.  They also advised me in the notice that future payments before the January 26th deadline may be returned to me if they are not for the full amount.

But my question is, "What is the full amount exactly?"

I ask this because the amount still owed that they most recently list appears to be different than the total amount listed only a few weeks ago.  I'm not a math wiz but I pretty sure that $1,961.03 minus my $948.62 payment equals $1,012.41, right? But this latest notice says that after that payment, the drop dead amount to come up with by January 26th is now $1,046.20. Since the original amount included late fees and "uncollected costs" where is this new $33.79 coming from and how was I supposed to know that it existed in the first place?  If I would have paid the full amount that they originally wanted, would I have come up short $33.79? How do I know that I am short if each notice (within weeks of each other) lists new and unexplained higher amounts?

I suspect that the $33.79 is one of those"uncollected costs".  My understanding is that these are fees that the bank charges to do things like allegedly send someone to the home to make sure that it is not abandoned.  I get the impression that there are many other fees that they assess that would surprise most homeowners.  Those fees likely only get worse the longer it takes for you to catch up.  And good luck with the level of fees and alleged "costs" that they will heap on you if they actually do file a foreclosure action against you.

For the record, I don't have a problem with Bank of America charging me legitimate late fees if I'm late.  I might even be open to this unaccounted for $33.79 extra that they are now demanding only weeks after the original notice.  But my biggest problem is the lack of simple communication so that I know exactly what they  are demanding and why.  If they are going to keep adding to the drop dead amount, shouldn't someone let me know that fact and give me an explanation?

This feels an awful lot like trying to hit a constantly moving target.  This situation is bad enough, i honestly don't need or want the extra challenge.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Did Bank of America Have It's Fingers Crossed?

The more that I read about Bank of America's settlement with the federal government and State Attorneys General, the more that I believe that they are not keeping to their side of the agreement.  Obviously I'm not an attorney and I'm certainly not an expert on the intricacies of the deal. Perhaps there are loopholes that they have exposed but from my vantage point there seems to be a willful disregard of their commitments.

For example, Bank of America and the other 4 banks agreed to no longer use deceptive practices in offering loan modifications.  I've heard long before the settlement and after that Bank of America and others often use these kinds of practices.  It seems as if they want to present themselves as working with struggling homeowners when in reality their system is willfully dysfunctional and endless. It is as if they are simply trying to run out the clock on struggling homeowners.

My own personal experience (which is post-Settlement) seems to verify this perception.  I've already detailed how Bank of America sent a packet suggesting that I apply for a loan modification.  But even after consulting with them during the process, they simply sent another packet telling me to start all over again.  When I called to inquire about what was wrong with the first packet and application they actually told me that they could not tell me.  Apparently I was supposed to guess and hope that the next package and application would magically become acceptable.

Bank of America then advised me by phone to call a national nonprofit that could allegedly walk me through the modification application process "line by line".  The only problem is that when I actually called that national nonprofit, the person told me the exact opposite.

Again, based on the settlement agreement I believe they they are supposed to establish one point of contact with me. They have in fact assigned me to an "account manager" but I have only received a form letter from this alleged person. I've tried to contact her and she has never answered the phone and has not returned multiple messages weeks later. My reading of the settlement suggests that this requirement was set up to improve communication, not completely cut it off.

These kinds of antics seem to violate at least the spirit of the settlement agreement if not the actual letter.

In my own unfortunate experience I am waiting to see if Bank of America will keep playing fast and loose with other elements of the settlement.  For example, will they restrict themselves from trying to foreclose on me while I am under consideration for a loan modification? Based on the settlement agreement, it appears that they are restricted from doing that very thing.

I may be resubmitting my modification package (with the help of a local nonprofit) as early as January 15 yet they have threatened to begin foreclosure actions after January 26th (Note: that may be avoided because I very well could become current before the deadline).  If I am not, will they honor that agreement since my loan will be under consideration for modification? By the way, isn't it technically already under consideration since I submitted the initial application package? Will they just ignore my modification status and just proceed anyway?

The settlement provides for a wide range of modification and other financial aid options for struggling homeowners.  Will I be seriously considered for any and all of them as I should be?

I already feel like Bank of America is not living up to their agreement under the February 2012 settlement with the government. Unfortunately in my own personal experience it will become quite clear one way or the other over the coming weeks and months.   I will respond accordingly.