Citimorgtgage / escrow account strong arm
In October 2009, CitiMortgage "discovered" that my 2008 taxes were "delinquent." They were not. Unemployed, I was paying off the taxes with a monthly payment of $200 (in addition to having nearly $200 a month taken by payroll deduction from my wife's paycheck and put into an escrow account for the 2009 taxes, a practice started over 13 years ago). In October, I went back to work and my first item of business was to pay off the remaining taxes, which I did by electronic funds transfer from my bank (Bank of America) to the Mecklenburg County Tax Collector for some $486.28.
That is when CitiMortgage decided to pay the bill they thought was past due, $687.74 (they didn't even bother to contact the tax assessor to determine what the exact amount owed was.)
CitiMortgage then notified me that they had set up an escrow account (which I had never asked for nor applied for nor needed) and that my new mortgage payment would be not the $1, 103.74 I had been paying for years (and never missed a payment) but would now be $1, 505. 70 and I must make and immediate "escrow shortage" payment of $1, 003.74.
When I contacted them, they were less than sympathetic, even when I produced documentation form Bank of America and the Mecklenburg County Tax Assessor proving that the funds I said had been paid, were in fact paid. In the documentation was proof that CitiMortgage had received a refund of $201.46 in October and an additional $300 in November which were a result of my direct payment. I explained, again, that the escrow account was not needed and should be closed. I offered additional documentation showing that the escrow account established some 13 years ago had more than sufficient funds to pay the 2009 taxes.
Nevertheless, in November CitiMortgage paid my 2009 taxes. Another letter came in December, demanding immediate payment of the "escrow shortage" and immediate payment of the $1, 505.70 per month. Another conversation proved fruitless, though I did send the CitiMortgage tax department a certified check for $1, 838. 43 to reimburse them for the amount they paid in error.
You would think this would have solved the problem, but NOOOO. January comes and I now have an even larger "escrow deficit" and a new threat: We will not apply any funds paid on your mortgage to the principal or interest until all monies are paid in full and the new payment amount of $1, 505.70 is received.
Now, despite assurances from Brent and Gary and Ben, my home is being threatened with foreclosure and CitiMortgage is reporting me as delinquent on my mortgage payments.
Another phone call. Yes, we've received your payments. Yes, we received the refunds from the Tax Assessor. Yes, we received your cashiers check for the 2009 tax payment. No, we will not close the escrow account. No, we will not stop demanding you pay us $1, 003.74 for the "escrow deficit" and NO we will not accept any payment but the now $1, 342.67 monthly payment that includes a $269.00 a month escrow payment starting in March 2010. You still owe us a payment of $1, 505.70 for February. If you do not pay, we will be forced to take whatever action we deem necessary to collect the money owed.
Here's are the facts: I have never missed a payment. Never needed an escrow account (I already have one). CitiMortgage made a unilateral decision, screwed it up and now they expect me to pay some $5, 000 total to pay my 2008 taxes (which the Tax Collector documents have been paid), my 2009 taxes (which the cashiers check - which they cashed - paid them back) and some $4, 000 in escrow to pay a $1, 800 property tax bill for 2010, which is already being paid from the escrow account I established at Bank of America some 13 years ago.
Somehow, after screwing up the mortgage industry and taking a bath, the remaining good customers of CitiMortgage are supposed to "chip in" by paying escrow payments they never had before, higher payments if they had an escrow account ($4, 000 for an $1, 800 tax bill is a little outrageous) along with increased fees to pay their bill.
Here's some suggestions: Pay your mortgage every 3 months so you never get to the point where they can foreclose. Paying every 3 months means you're only 60 days behind. They can't foreclose until you're 90-120 days behind. Open a checking account at an obscure state bank in a small city and write your mortgage payment on that account. It'll take 4 to 5 business days for them to get their money. Pay on the very last day you can by snail mail and get the envelope hand canceled. Your mortgage payment is based on the date the letter was mailed, not when it was received.
Last, but not least, call them on their toll free number often to complain. It doesn't cost you a dime and it adds to their expenses. They can't stop you, cause if they do, they face all kinds of penalties for denying access to bank officials by bank customers.
And if you can, find another mortgage company. I am.
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