Countrywide / Countrywide refinancing scam!
As an attorney and a Countrywide customer, I am in complete agreement with all the comments posted, in particular those pertaining to refinancing -- which appears to be a huge scam. Our existing loan was (is) an adjustable rate mortgage that has increased from an initial monthly payment of $600.00 to now almost twice that amount, and at nearly 11% interest (with notification from Countrywide that it may go up further). When we received our most recent rate hike, we had been getting inundated for months by Countrywide with "URGENT" notices concerning our mortgage, inviting us to "refinance today!", get "cash out", lower your interest rate, get a fixed rate. Suffice to say, like everyone else in this boat, we responded to the offer, beginning nearly 2 months ago (the date now is April 9, 2008). I spent about 45 minutes on the phone with a Countrywide representative who advised me that had all pertinent information and would be "back in contact shortly" -- guess what, folks, no contact of any kind was forthcoming. I decided to try again. The next time, I spoke with a female representative who refused to identify herself as other than "Sims", and once again, I was led back through their series of questions about my current mortgage, my income, etc etc. At the end of the long conversation, Sims advised that she would contact me within a day with information on my request. Once again, no return call, nada. But I didn't give up, figuring that I already had invested a couple of hours of my time and it was worth an hour more to get the matter rolling. After waiting a week to hear from "Sims", I called again in response to one of the literally dozens of refinancing notices from Countrywide. I then talked first to a male named Brian, who took all the information that I had already provided twice before, then shuffled me to an Hispanic female, who apologetically told me that I would have to furnish all of the same information to her that I had just given to her colleague. We went through the process again of income, the rate we were hoping to achieve, the fact that we needed to cash out on existing equity in our home as well as hopefully reducing our monthly mortgage to a more manageable amount. She was very nice, polite, and assured me that I qualified for refinancing. She also advised me that once the loan had been refinanced, the new payment amount would be retroactive to the time when I started the refinancing effort. She also assured me that we would get somewhere between $2000 and $4000 in cash out in connection with the refinancing effort, depending on how the appraisal came out. All of that sounded pretty good. However, she said, we would need to pay a processing fee and an appraisal fee totaling $435.00 -- which we did.
Not long after paying the appraisal fee, we received an overnight package from Countrywide with a not insubstantial number of loan documents, including a Loan Application and a "Certification and Authorization" form by which they asked that I certify the accuracy of the information that had been pre-printed for me on the Loan Application. In reviewing the Loan Application, I noted numerous significant errors -- my time at my job was misstated; there was a savings account noted that had $30, 000 in it, according to the application, when I had never mentioned a savings account, didn't have one, and sure didn't have $30, 000 in one; my monthly income was shown as being much more than I actually earn. In effect, Countrywide had asked me to certify a document that included numerous misrepresentations that Countrywide itself had made in completing the application on my behalf (supposedly). Oh, yes, and the closing costs were about $6000, with a final net amount due me (which I guess was the "cash out" amount) of $610. Completely wrong, completely contrary to the assurances that I had received from the lady who took my credit card information for the $435 appraisal fee. After reviewing the documentation, I emailed a new representative who had contacted me to see the matter through to its finish, and let her know (as she had demanded that we "wrap this up" and that I return the Certification and Authorization sheet) that I could not certify the accuracy of the Loan Application in its present form, with all the mistakes, which I carefully noted in a traditional letter to her. I finally faxed back the Certification form along with my letter asking that my letter be included as an addendum to the Loan Application so that it would be clear in the future to anyone looking at this transaction that I had not made the misrepresentations as to income, savings account, etc. I also mentioned that I believed Countrywide's touted "no cost" refinancing was itself a false representation, given that this process was going to cost me $6000 or so. No wonder your company is under federal investigation, I advised this newest representative on my case. I received a terse email from the lady, saying that she had forwarded my correspondence to her manager and someone would be back in touch with me shortly. You got it -- not a word from anyone since that time. Now over a week since someone would get in touch with me "shortly" and still not a word...
And lo and behold, in the mail with yet another offer to refinance my property, I soon received a notice of default from Countrywide, telling me that I had X number of days to pay them two months' payments at the old mortgage rate, plus penalties, somewhere in the neighborhood of $2500. You can well imagine my response. I let them know that I was going to take aggressive steps if someone didn't straighten out the misguided notice of default, and also let them know that they clearly had an internal problem at the company because the left hand sure does not know what the right hand is doing.
The matter is now continuing, and I expect it to get worse before it gets better. If you have a situation similar to mine, or complaints in general with the integrity and honesty of those at Countrywide involved in what appears to be a huge refinancing scam, please feel free to drop me a line at BLC4law@aol.com Misery loves company and I am sure pretty miserable about this situation and nearing the point where I will take legal action on my own if something doesn't change -- and quick. Folks, does this sound like a scam? First get people bent over the barrel with payments they can't afford, then sucker them out of (at least) an appraisal fee of nearly $500 and probably much more often a refinancing fee / closing costs of many thousands of dollars. If you multiple those thousands of dollars and all those appraisal fees by thousands and thousands of customers in search of some help, you have a massive financial intake that probably nets Countrywide millions each year. I guess that's how their executives come out with $40 Million a year paychecks. What a world we live in...
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