Man Fights Back Against Mortgage Company - NBC Connecticut

Man Fights Back Against Mortgage Company

(Published Thursday, May 7, 2015)

A Connecticut homeowner says he was harassed by his mortgage company even though he paid his mortgage on time.

Scott Callan’s problems started last July when he got a loan modification through Ocwen Mortgage Company. Since then, he says he has gotten barrage of phone calls, threating letters and confusing bills asking for payment.

"Seven calls a day on my cell phone, on my work phone, on my home phone to ask me why I wasn’t current," Callan explained.

Bills demanded payment Callan said he already made.

"I have been completely current the whole time," he said.

The NBC Connecticut Troubleshooters took a look at some of the bills in a huge stack spread across a table in Callan’s home. Many of them said Callan owed different amounts.

For example, we looked at three bills all sent in the month of November. The Nov. 6 bill is for about $2,400 dollars. The Nov. 11 bill is lower, stating about $1,000 dollars is due. A third dated Nov. 24 jumps back up to about $3,500 dollars.

"Which one do you pay attention to?" asked Callan. "Which one is current?"

He said he never knows, but he does he knows one thing: he paid his mortgage in November, and even showed us a bank statement to prove it.

He tried to call the company while the Troubleshooters were there to find out his actual balance.

We watched as he was transferred several times and got no information on his account.

"So every time you call up it's like that," Callan explained. "They tell you they are giving you to not your representative, to the next representative, to the next representative."

However, communication isn’t his only issue with the company. Because his account appeared to be behind, he said property assessors sent by Ocwen showed up on several occasions.

"I felt threatened," said Callan. "I felt like they were in the predatory mode and they had no right to be. It was wrong and it was scary and it was intimidating."

We spoke with Ocwen representatives over the phone. While they wouldn't discuss Callan’s account with us, they said it's not uncommon for them to send someone to check out a person’s home periodically because until the mortgage is paid off, the company still owns it.

Company representatives added that they generally service high-risk loans.

We also spoke with a representative from a different mortgage company who said that to their knowledge, regularly checking on homes isn’t common at all. But, they said they also don't service high-risk loans.

Ocwen sent the Troubleshooters this statement:

"We apologize for any inconvenience caused to Mr. Callan. With over 2 million loans serviced across the country, Ocwen is committed to resolving all customer inquiries as quickly as possible."

According to a report from the state of New York, from 2009 to 2013, Ocwen grew from servicing about 351,000 loans to more than 2.8 million nationwide.

During that time, Ocwen took over the mortgages of homeowners like Callan, who had originally financed with other companies. The homeowners had no choice in the matter and many weren’t happy with the change.

In 2014 the New York State Department of Financial Services found Ocwen guilty of "serious servicing misconduct" for things like "pursuing foreclosure even while loan modification applications were pending" and ordered the company to pay $150 million to help homeowners there.

In January, the state of California Department of Business Oversight slapped Ocwen with a $2.5 million penalty for failing to provide loan information.

The Federal Trade Commission has received more than 19,000 complaints, while the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau received more than 16,000 complaints about Ocwen over the last five years.

Here in Connecticut, our Department of Banking is starting to see similar problems.

"Questions about insurance and whether they are appropriately paying funds out of the borrower’s escrow," said Bruce Adams, general counsel for the Connecticut Department of Banking. "We are seeing loan modification issues."

There are hundreds of other complaints as well.

Adams said Connecticut laws were changed in 2014 so that Ocwen and other mortgage companies can be regulated by the Connecticut Department of Banking.

"The borrowers have got to understand what they are paying," said Adams.

Adams also said the DOB wants to make sure homeowners like Callan are being treated fairly.

We asked Callan what he would say if he could speak directly to the president or CEO of Ocwen.

"You are screwing with people's livelihoods – where they live, where they raise their kids. This is the biggest investment of their lives," said Callan.

In 2013, the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau ordered Ocwen to refund $125 million to people who had lost their homes after years of what they called "significant servicing errors" by Ocwen.

As of now, Callan said he recently received notice that he is current.

The Connecticut Department of Banking urges any homeowner who has problems with their mortgage company to contact them to file a complaint.

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