Bank of America (BoA) is not just stealing its customers’ homes. It’s bribing its employees to make it happen.
The federal government tried to decrease bank foreclosures through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP), which “is designed to help financially struggling homeowners avoid foreclosure by modifying loans to a level that is affordable for borrowers now and sustainable over the long term,” according to Fannie Mae.
It looks like BoA didn’t want its borrowers to “avoid foreclosure.” That is what six employees and one contractor have asserted in written affidavits made under oath in a pending lawsuit. The following is based on the employees’ allegations.
Instead of acknowledging reality or complying with the law, BoA lied through its teeth about customers who had jumped through every hoop the bank and the law put in their way, saying that they hadn’t made required payments or filed necessary paperwork when they had actually done it all.
You know the rage-inducing frustration that only “customer service” can trigger, by transferring you from person to person, saying they don’t have information that you already sent, and generally refusing to be human? Or is that just me? In any case, imagine that culminating not in a bank fee or a canceled credit card, but losing your house.
Some examples of BoA’s nefarious alleged tactics, from the affidavits and ThinkProgress:
- BoA instructed employees not to process customers’ financial documents for 30 days after they came in. After 30 days they were to mark them “stale” and require borrowers to refile their applications.
- Applications that escaped this treatment were denied 60 days after they were received, even if they were in perfect order. Employees made up lies to justify the denials.
- BoA instructed telephone representatives to tell all borrowers who called that their applications were “under review,” even when no one had looked at them.
- Bank staff would cancel loan modifications on the completely false pretext that borrowers had missed payments.
- BoA bribed employees to meet foreclosure quotas with gift cards and bonuses.
Suddenly it is clear why, as of last fall, 800,000 foreclosures went through that HAMP should have prevented, and why, among all banks, BoA was the biggest offender. At the time experts speculated that BoA and other big banks didn’t have enough well-trained staff who could handle mortgage modifications. Now it appears that the full explanation is much more sinister.
The Center for American Progress Action Fund and ThinkProgress advocate reducing the principal borrowers owe on their mortgages instead of modifying loan terms. But as long as banks are administering the changes it doesn’t really matter how they are supposed to move the numbers around. They will continue to serve their own interests. If the American government has learned anything from the economic plunge of the past several years it should have been this: the big banks are the big problem.
Related: 10 Heartbreaking Foreclosure Stories
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