Countrywide Home Loans / predatory lending
TO: WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
FROM: VICKI MILLER
RE: COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS PREDATORY LENDING
I, like hundreds of other Americans, have a story to tell about the horrible and unethical business practices of Countrywide Home Loans. First, may I say that I have been a honest, hardworking, tax paying American for over 36 years. I am a single parent. I had purchased the home which I was raised upon the passing of my mother. This is the home where I, also have raised my son. So, this is more than just a house to me. It is our home and our foundation.
I originally got involved with Countrywide when they purchased my mortgage (unknown to me) by a mortgage company that was already under investigation, Ameriquest. At which time, I had never even been late with a house payment. After a year or so with Countrywide, they began to pursue me to refinance my original mortgage. They called me, mailed letters to me, and emailed me stating that I had over $24, 818.00 in equity in my home and they were offering me a “no closing cost”, “no appraisal fee”, “no hidden fees” etc. refinance loan. After several months of their persistence, I agreed to go ahead and refinance with the intention of borrowing $5, 000 from my equity to put in some energy efficient windows in my home. (As it is an older home, and living in PA, the cost of fuel is very expensive). Thus, not only conserving energy and saving on my fuel bills, but also improving the investment of my home. I agreed to refinance in Sept. 2005.
Initially, I was sent preliminary papers. The horror begins Oct.2005 when a notary comes to my place of my employment for closing with a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT SET OF DOCUMENTS???? Ofcourse, I was completely offguard. There I was, at work, with no privacy, confused at the loan papers, I immediately asked the closing agent what was going on? He told me he was just a courier they hired to get me to sign the papers. He rushed me and assured me there would surely be a resolution. Not only were they a completely different set of papers and loan amounts that I was previously sent, but I did not get ONE CENT at closing to put in my windows and they had used up MY ENTIRE AMOUNT OF EQUITY!!! Being bewildered, rushed and not being mortgage smart, I signed, under duress! I am an honest, trusting Christian woman who would never have thought something like this would happen to me. I was wrong! I immediately went to the phone and began calling Countrywide.. I briefly got to spoke to the representative from their Full Spectrum Lending Div., who told me that they paid off a HUD loan I had taken out (to put a new roof on) and the rest was countrywide fees.He assured me that someone from Countrywide would call me and go over it all in detail with me. Guess what? I never heard from them again!
Remember the promise about no fees? What false advertising that was! Not to mention, don’t you think they should have advised me of the paying off the loan to Domestic bank and all of the loan changes and higher interest rate and fees than they first disclosed to me in advance? I was not notified ahead of time about any of this or I would have not refinanced! As, the only reason I left them persuade me was to take advantage of the low interest rates, no costs and to take advantage of taking some of my equity to put in the new windows! Had I been sent the revised loan papers ahead of time, I would have never agreed!!! I asked all kind of questions and was told someone would call me and explain everything to me. That never happened! I persistently called them, only to be passed around from one person to another. Never getting to talk to the same person twice! I wrote to them, I faxed them, I emailed them, on many occasions. Never did they even have the courtesy to explain anything to me! Is this how you run an HONEST business? To take advantage of people and not have any respect or customer service? If they had done nothing wrong, why didn’t they address the situation? I have kept copies of many of my letters and emails, Both from them pursuing me to refinance, and my letters to them asking for explanations as to why they did this to me? I also have several sets of legal documents. Some, I actually have 3 sets of the same papers with completely different amounts on them? Ofcourse, different interest rates then originally promised as well.
I have 3 different “Schedule of Real Estate Owned” with 3 different payoff amounts?
One set listed my payoff for my original Countrywide mtg. as $59, 624 and the pay off to Domestic Bank for my HUD loan as $13, 867. Another one said my payoff to Ctrywide. Was $62, 855.74 & Domestic Bank was $14, 078 on my “Settlement Statement”? So, I ended up with a sub-prime mortgage that ended up for $81, 830 @ 8.25 (another document says 8.75%?) with ZERO money received at closing. AND ALL OF MY HOMES EQUITY WAS GONE!!!
I have 2 different “Truth in lendingstatements” with different amounts, even the “final” one said amount financed was to be $78, 125.45, but my “Note” is for $81, 830??? I have 3 different copies of “Assets and Liabilities”with 3 different amounts., 2 different “Settlement Statements”, 2 different “Amortization Schedules” Nothing, that matches or makes any sense to me? I wasn’t aware of the thieves they were until this happened to me! Ofcourse, making my payments much higher! But, I never gave up on trying to get some resolution. I didn’t know about their “Bait and Switch” schemes.
I felt I was taken advantage of, promised one thing and given another. I did sign the papers, but again, under duress!!! And immediately seeked explanations and help from them. But got nowhere! Now that I hear of all of the sub-prime mortgage mess, I am sure I was a victim of predatory lending! Every time I called Countrywide, I NEVER got to talk to the same person twice, I kept getting passed around, having to repeat my story over and over only to be told to call another phone #, etc. And I have proof of many letters and emails I sent to them asking why?
Not only that, but on several occasions they tried to charge me for home owners insurance, which they knew I already had privately, Again, I was given the run around, with the right hand not knowing what the left was doing. I even had my insurance agent call and fax them. I finally got it resolved, only to have it happen again!!!
To make matters worse, last year I was burdened with the care of a sick family member. I called Countrywide several times to explain in effort to be able to work something out, only to be treated with total disrespect! So, they tried to foreclose on me! Now, they said that “The Bank of New York” was the note holder of my mortgage? I never knew about that either. So were they also a victim of Countrywides illegal practices, or were they too, part of the scheme of things? On one occasion, I spoke to a representative named Brian Keller, who told me I would have to refinance at $150, 000.00??? Now, if my home was only worth $85, 000 (at that time) and I was already up to the limit and having problems managing those payments, how would I ever do that? It didn’t make any sense?
I met with a local legal attorney, who agreed that my loan documents looked suspicious. She tried to contact Countrywide, but also found that she understands my frustration as there is no possibility of continuity and no specific person with whom to work with.
I was so distraught that I was going to lose our home., I went to a private attorney. Atty. Shawn Sullivan, of Altoona, PA. He agreed that I was definitely a victim of predatory lending and consumer fraud. He was able to get me into a “work-out” program to avoid foreclosure, but this ended costing me an additional $10, 886.82, plus attorney fees and a title search! Talk about kicking one when they are down! Mr. Sullivan and his colleagues advised me to seek help from the PA Atty.Generals Office. Since, I do not have the resources to pay a private attorney.
I did write to them. I was assigned a file #F-[protected]. my case was assigned to a office in State College, PA. I just found out this week that they cant help me? A girl named Lauren called me and said that “ why did I sign the papers? I had plenty of time to look them over prior to signing.(this is what Countrywide is using as a defense), “ Did she not even read my complaint? Yes, I did receive papers ahead of time, BUT, THEY WERE NOT THE DOCUMENTS I WAS FORCED TO SIGN AT CLOSING’ Again, bait and switch! I cant believe Countrywide is using as a defense that I had plenty of time to read the papers and ask questions!!! Sure, I had a whole 5 minutes to read and sign the ACTUAL PAPERS! And I DID ASK QUESTIONS! I JUST NEVER GOT ANSWERS!
But, being a trusting person, I felt sure this type of thing didn’t happen in our great country! I also didn’t really know that my HUD loan was considered a lein on my home. As again, I was not mortgage smart. If I knew then what I do now, I would have had a realitor or banker look it over. Again, I was completely under the assumption that the original loan papers sent too me ahead of time is what was going to take place. There was no other changed documents sent to me ahead of time to go over, or I would have NOT went thru with it. They knew what they were doing. This way, they caught me off guard, promised me one thing, then switching at the last minute! They should have sent me the “revised loan documents” explaining everything, ahead of time to look over (just like they did the preliminary documents) . THEY CHOSE NOT TO DO SO BECAUSE THEY KNEW ONCE I SAW THE OUTRAGEOUS FEES AND INTEREST RATES AND UNAPPROVED CHANGES, I WOULD HAVE CHANGED MY MIND.!!! They knew exactly what they were doing, and it was not the first time they did this to an honest consumer. How dare they use the excuse that I had plenty of time to go over the papers??? Sure I did, THE FALSE ONES!!! And to respond by saying I had time to ask questions….what do you think I had tried to do for so long???? Call after call, letter after letter, emails and faxes!! I have copies! NOT ONCE DID THEY RESPOND! WHY? Because they knew they were involved in predatory lending practices! I will not accept this as a legitimate or legal reason. And if our government agrees that they did right by me, then will be very disappointed in what our country stands for. “We the people, For the people”? Which people, just the wealthy corp.giants? And the hardworking taxpayers are nothing?
After searching on the intranet, I have found hundreds of dissatisfied Countrywide customers. With more horror stories, very similar to mine, many exactly the same! There is actually a website :www.countrywidehomeloansucks.com. Read some of the stories of not only their predatory lending practices, but stories from employees who admit they were expected to do wrong by their customers. Even mortgage brokers with stories about how they (Countrywide) were dishonest, padded finance fees, have an “invincible” approach to business and they don’t care or are not concerned how they treat their customers with disrespect.
Even Barack Obama has a poor opinion of Countrywide. Stating” All across this country, we’ve seen how its becoming harder and harder for working families to make ends meet..For too long, the rules in our ecomony have been written to benefit Wall Street at the expense of Main Street. We saw this again today when we learned that two executives at Countrywide, are set to walk away with $2 million in payouts. This is an outrage. Top mortgage lenders spend $185 million in recent years lobbying Washington to look the other way, while they tricked American families forcing millions of Americans to face foreclosure and pushing our economy into a recession. We should be reprimanding them, not rewarding them. “ (March 30, 2008)
I was under the impression that our governing bodies were here to protect us as consumers. Apparently, I was wrong. They keep a blind eye on these illegal actions, while hard working American taxpayers cant make ends meet. Like myself, most people cant afford to hire a private attorney. This large corporate giant is tearing down American families and The American Dream one at a time. I cant believe our judicial system would allow this to continue. Countrywide is the ENRON of the real-estate industry!!
“We clearly are concerned about predatory lending” said Heather Tyler, spokeswoman for the PA Dept. Of Banking. A study released last year commissioned by the banking dept, concluded that predatory lending practices were the major reason that Pennsylvania had one of the highest rates of home foreclosures in the country. According to PA Banking Sec., Bill Schenck, PA ranks 4th in the nation for sub-prime mortgage foreclosures .
I cannot tell you how disappointed I am that The PA Attorney Generals Office, with whom I had the upmost respect in the wonderful job they are doing in dealing with the drug problem in our communities, can do nothing to help me? Laura said I could file a law suit on my own, but unfortunately, I cant afford one! I expected the same laws that would prevent and prosecute “ME” from stealing, would also use my tax dollars to pursue the companies stealing from the consumers. I know had I stolen, I would expect to make restitution to my victim, as well as pay the penalty of the crime. Not only by the law that was created to protect me, but also my God, who is the final judge.
I do not feel what Countrywide did was right. They misled me with false advertising and false promises. THEY pursued ME. They should be held accountable! I cant believe their defense is that I signed the papers, yes, I did, but under duress! And again, as included in all of the 55 pages I originally sent the Atty. Generals Office, I was given a different set of papers to preview, and the first time I saw the papers I signed was at the closing, being rushed by their dishonest courier, at my place of employment!!! This too, is common practice for Countrywide. Many states have class action suits against them.
I feel I was not given the proper attention in dealing with this matter by our Atty.Generals Office branch in State College, PA. I would ask them to assign my case to another branch office. I do not know where to turn!
Not only am I having a hard time making ends meet, but all of this stress and worrying has also affected my health. I am now under a doctors care for depression and nerves, taking medication and also weekly see a therapist. This also hurts my income.
I do not intend to let this drop. I am VERY disappointed that our states top attorney isn’t interested enough to have someone more qualified to look into this. I have had several local attorneys and bankers tell me that I was definitely a victim of predatory lending!!! I just cant afford to hire a private attorney !
I intend to forward this letter to our states representatives, The Hud office of Inspector General in Washington DC, the Bureau of consumer affairs, The US Attorneys Office, The Center for Responsible Lending, Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, PA statewide task force on predatory lending, The National Consumer Law Center, National Consumer Advocates, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, National Assoc.of Mtg.Brokers, The American Bar Assoc., PA Dept. of Banking, National Home Equity Mtg.Assoc. PCCA, National Conference of State legislatures….Everyone I can find who will take the time and interest in just one honest persons right to The American Dream being taken away from her. Coutrywide should receive cease and desist orders and pay back monies owed to each and every individual they cheated. Is it true they pay lawmakers to take a back seat and turn the other way? I, myself, being a proud hardworking American citizen, cant believe that. I refuse to believe that all of our lawmakers and departments will sit back and allow this to continue. Do they realize how hard it is to be a single working parent, living from paycheck to paycheck, paid taxes for over 36 years, never took a cent from welfare, and now cant afford to send her graduating son to college due to her only savings and equity being stolen by a corrupt corp.giant? My son, who is a good, honest,
Christian boy, has been accepted to Penn State, where he dreams of becoming an elementary school teacher, and I cant get the funds to send him! My credit is ruined, my money is gone. What would you do? As a Christian, I always was taught to “turn the other cheek”, but not in a case like this. I also believe in the Constitution and The American Dream of hard work, paying taxes, and be a law abiding citizen. All of these values I have installed in my son.
I hope and pray, that someone that I contact will find it in good conscience to do what is right and look into this. If I need to file suit, to whom do I turn? Please, someone, put yourselves in my position, what would you do?
As of now, I can only continue to forward this letter to anyone and everyone who will listen. As I stated earlier, I have ALL of the documentation to support my claim.I have copies of letters Countrywide pursued me to refinance stating the amount of equity I had at the time. Copies of many letters I wrote to Countrywide in effort to resolve on my own, and ofocurse, several copies of unmatching legal documents!!!
It is with sincere thanks and respect that someone will respond to my plea for help.
Not losing trust in MY government,
Vicki M. Miller
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