Imagine this: You, accompanied by the sheriff’s deputies, walk into your local Bank of America branch. You tell the sheriff to remove cash from the tellers’ drawers and seize the branch’s furniture and computers. It’s like a dream come true, especially for someone who has been on the receiving end of a bank’s foreclosure.
Now imagine this: You and your wife pay cash to buy your house, never taking out a mortgage. Bank of America, however, believes you do have a mortgage and that you haven’t made any payments. This is not like the issue where a bank can’t prove it is the true owner of a mortgage due to securitization, a situation where someone with a mortgage might be able to get out of paying an obligation because the mortgage can’t be traced to a real creditor. This is a case where a mortgage never existed, but somehow, Bank of America believed the house was owned by the bank. The bank initiates the foreclosure process, forcing you to hire an attorney despite the bank not having any legal standing. Although the court ordered Bank of America to cover your thousands of dollars in attorney fee expenses, the bank doesn’t pay. For months.
A good course of action is to initiate foreclosing proceedings on the bank, and that’s what a couple in this position did. $2,500 may be enough for a bank to repeatedly ignore, but that amount is worthwhile to a household. The sheriff invasion resulted in a check from the bank within an hour, and the check covered the attorney’s fees plus another $3,000.
It is difficult to stand up to banks, even if you know you’re in the right. Large financial institutions have what seems like endless money to throw at problems they want to go away, and another bottomless trough for money to help them maintain a good reputation in the media. While not all consumers need to battle with the financial industry, some do, and those who do are facing long odds.
Published or updated June 7, 2011.