Journalism in the Public Interest

States Sue Bank of America: Bank Employees Dish, and Other Highlights

On Friday, Arizona and Nevada both filed suit against Bank of America, saying it deceived homeowners trying to avoid foreclosures. The suits allege that Bank of America knowingly misled homeowners in the loan modification process, regularly promising quick help when the process instead dragged out over months if not years, foreclosing on homeowners during the modification process despite promises that homeowners would be safe and making “false” promises to homeowners that their trial modifications would become permanent, among other complaints.

A Bank of America executive told the Arizona Republic that he was “disappointed” in the suits and said the bank is already working to improve its processes and programs. “We and other major servicers are currently engaged in multistate discussions to address foreclosure-related issues more comprehensively,” he said.

The Arizona case also says the bank repeatedly violated the terms of a multi-state, $8.68 billion settlement with Countrywide (now a subsidiary of Bank of America) to provide loan modifications for homeowners with troubled loans. A recent investigation by the Nation magazine tore into the settlement, calling it a “fiasco” that failed to help homeowners as promised.

We pulled out some highlights from the two lawsuits. You can read the full Arizona and Nevada suits for yourself.

“I felt like I was always lying to borrowers”

Interviews with former bank employees provide a window into the bank’s call centers. One employee told the Nevada Attorney General’s office, “I felt like I was always lying to borrowers,” saying they were told to mislead homeowners about the status of their applications. The employee complained to a supervisor, and says of what happened next: “Her instructions in response were just to give the borrowers their status and to tell them that they are ‘in the process,’ in spite of the fact that the computer showed that nothing was happening.”

Other employees bemoaned the poor training Bank of America provided its staff. One said, “The main point of the training is to teach us how to get customers off the phone in less than ten minutes.” Another said, “Nobody at BOA seems to care what we actually say to the borrower, as long as we get them off the phone.”

Asking for a third, fourth or fifth time”

Homeowners have long complained about slow communications by Bank of America and other mortgage companies, but it looks like they’re not alone. The Arizona complaint lists eight different dates when the AG’s office had to repeat its requests for responses to consumer complaints. This includes a date in March of this year when "the Office sent the Bank a list of 46 consumer complaints for which it was awaiting a response, including several for which the office was asking for a third, fourth or fifth time.”

“Bank of America had full authority”

Loan servicers regularly tell homeowners that the investors who own their mortgage won’t allow any modifications. As we’ve reported before, that excuse is cited far more often than is justified, and few mortgage deals include such restrictions. Bank of America has testified before Congress about this as well, but when pressed, an executive admitted that “very, very few” investors prohibit modifications.

Both the Arizona and Nevada suits take up this issue, saying “Bank of America notified consumers that their modifications were declined by the investors in instances where Bank of America had full authority, without the investors’ approval, to offer modifications.” If there was a legitimate restriction, the states say the bank did not properly try to get approval from investors.

“Take it or leave it”

The State of Nevada allows homeowners to request face-to-face mediation conferences with banks and other companies that service loans if they are facing foreclosure. The Nevada suit alleges that Bank of America acted in bad faith in the mediations, sending attorneys without the authority to negotiate, reneging on modification offers and even failing to show up at the conferences entirely. It cites one mediator’s findings that Bank of America engaged in a “ ‘Boulware-like’ bargaining strategy and a ‘take it or leave it’ basis,” that forced homeowners to compromise under duress.

Hmm, sounds just like Chase.  Wonder when they’ll be held accountable?  “Oh, the only thing HUD will allow us to do is our CHAMP even though you have an FHA loan.  We don;t deal with those because we don’t follow gov. guidelines.  We don’t have to. You want to see the HUD recommendation?  No, you’re not entitled to that information nor will you ever get a hold of it.  Have a nice day.”  Really?

John Woodward

Dec. 20, 2010, 9:55 p.m.

Why does this surpirse anyone?  As a Broker, this is why I hate working with banks.  They lie and screw anyone and everyone they can.  Why would anyone expect that the the j**ks that got us into this mess, would do any better getting us out.  If it’s not in the banks interests, forget “doing the right thing.”  It’s just not what banks do.

John Woodward
Sarasota Real Estate Group


Dec. 20, 2010, 10:48 p.m.

I would say sounds more like: Chase, Litton, Citibank, Wells Fargo, and the rest in other words is common practices ! Add to this all the FRAUDCLOSURES they have been vomited bay banks with falsification of affidavits signatures etc
When is the country going to wake up?

I wonder when other states start to file lawsuits all these Banks. It is time the banks start to change their behavior.

It will look bad front of the entire world that In America the homeless people number has skyrocketed to nearly 40 million including children, While in third world countries more and more people living standard is growing. 

At the same time Wall Street fat cats are swimming in gold and money what they have stolen from the working class.

Good job American Bankers and Wall street fat cats.
I just wonder when you took all the money from the working class who will you steal next?

and we have rewarded this behavior with budget busting tax breaks.

so now….BOA is “disappointed?” really?
the *bank* is, after tossing out hundreds of thousands of homeowners with less consideration of the HAMP app merits than you’d get at the service desk @ Target?
so sorry to disappoint a
payback’s a witch, BOA. BTW, nice stock you have there. be a shame to see anything happen to it. ooops, my bad. BAC at a low, again.
dang. hate when that happens…

The Arizona AG was on msnbc last night and he was pretty firm in what was going to happenw ith BOA.  I think everyone from all 50 states should make him aware that Chase, WF, etc. are doing the same thing.

There was an article (I forget on which site but will look it up and post it) about a Chase “SEC Whistleblower” on this same topic who was recently fired from Chase.  Alemonte (her last name) was “wrongfully terminated” and is giving a lot of information that’s identical to what happened with BOA.  Interesting.

If you don’t like what they’re doing, whether it’s for fraudclosure, or denying payments to someone they don’t like, like Wikileaks, TAKE YOUR MONEY OUT OF THE BANK!
No complaining necessary, just cut the head of the beast off.

Mel-Respectfully sometimes it is a little more complicated than what you propose. Yes, 3 years ago I cancelled my BoA credit card. I did not have an option when my mortgage (servicing…if that is what you want to call it) was purchased by BoA. I would gladly have PAID to have not had them involved. As it is now…I am PAYING all right, in ways you cannot begin to know!

I appreciate your response.  Sometimes if you can’t do anything else with a company that relies on your goodwill or cash deposits, you can show your displeasure by either shopping somewhere else.  Or, in this case, deny them your support by banking with someone else. 
While I haven’t send Wikileaks any $, I am not comfortable with an organization as big, and powerful as the BofA telling me where I can spend my $.  It’s a slippery slope.  Who’s next, my church?  My charities?  Someone else that they don’t like for exposing the fraud that they’ve committed.  It has to stop/start somewhere.  I’m just making my little peep known.
Best wishes for a Happy Holiday season.  I hope that you’re “paying” them all right, has not destroyed your efforts of the past, or harming your family.

Mel-I completely agree with you, especially the part concerning donations. Unfortunately BoA has (in my case) had a direct influence of my having to discontinue sponsorship of a young man from Sierre Leone (after MANY years of happily doing so) through ChildFund (formerly Christian Children’s Fund). I become physically ill at the thought of the billions $ BoA is able to enjoy via bonuses.
I am presently in my 10th month of trying to ascertain an answer on mod from BoA. All it has produced so far is my credit score going south…and of course BoA falsely reporting of me being delinquent. This without being given an answer of my eligibility of mod.
How we have allowed these corporations to evolve to the point where they can now operate “above the laws” we have to observe is beyond me or my pay scale. I am truly trying to fight back as best I can…with honesty above all. Now more than ever I am going to commit to somehow hold those responsible. My vote hasn’t seemed to help, so now further action is warranted. Letter writing,phone calls and joining like minded groups!
I wish you and yours a Happy and Safe Holiday season also! Keep the Faith. May GOD bless all!!!!


Dec. 21, 2010, 6:41 p.m.

I have a case for you guys to read:
I customer came to see me today he was approved for a modification by CHASE back in September, signed his mod and sent it back to CHASE signed and dated when the borrower called again to find out if they received the Mod docs Chase explained the borrower that yes, they received the Mod docs but the calculations were wrong (an error on chase part) and that in 10 days they were going to send new mod docs for them to sign again and to please not to send the payment yet until they received the new docs, in short this turn in to 3 months and now they are in foreclosure they received a notice of sale yesterday
wow anybody that has a bank account with CHASE should take their money out of it CHASE may steel it and I wouldn’t be surprise !

I apply for loan modification at BOA. I call every other week about status ,in proccessing. If I am going call HUD they can do my loan Modification?


Dec. 21, 2010, 7:37 p.m.

Ramesh, HUD can do it, the problem:  even that HUD intentions are good, they only work as a messenger they wont negotiate, defend, verified or fight for you
As you can see in my previous comment a client came to see me today that try to do it by himself and HUD, I believe that because the bank probably notice that he has nobody to defend him is trying to take advantaged of him and change its mind in regards to the mod already approved

Nissim Sasson

Dec. 21, 2010, 8 p.m.

Thank you republicans thanks to you we are doomed



Dec. 21, 2010, 8:30 p.m.

Here is another problem with the banks
when homeowners are in the trial phase their mortgage company tacks on to their mortgage principal the difference between their old monthly payment and the reduced amount. The longer the trial, the more gets added ! that is why banks are doing everything possible to delay the mod and for some of these homeowners, that tacked-on amount is enough to tip the scales against a permanent modification when their mortgage company finally decides to run the formula that determines whether they keep their home (NVP test), or are forced out. A bigger debt load works against homeowners,

The truth is that because the banks are behaving this way then of course, this is not a good deal for homeowners

Is there any way I can cash in on this, even tho my home wasn’t foreclosed?  I really want to stick it to them.


Dec. 21, 2010, 9:45 p.m.

mmm.. cash in? mmm… no but banks yes, they can cash in! and big time!

Marco Polo-Brother, I truly hope you were not being facetiousregarding your comment of “cashing in”. I am happy to know that you have been fortunate enough not to have been through a foreclosure. Most of the programs that are being offered are to “supposedly” keep homeowners from 4closure.
If you indeed feel that there could possibly be a chance you might eventually face 4closure…NOW would be a good time to get your paperwork sent in to your servicer, as the process is EXTREMELY long as far as time wise. But, as far as simply looking for a way to “stick it to them” (even some deserve it) it would not be fair to those who are truly looking to save their homes and families. If you do need help…there are plenty of GOOD people on this site that I’m sure would be willing to help/or direct you. GOD bless all!

shakespeare got it wrong.  he said, first, kill all the lawyers.  substitute the word bankers instead of lawyers, then you got something.

Why are we so suprise the bankers run this country with the help of the goverment the economy is not going to get better until the govermet takes charge of the bankers and put a stop and come out with laws for the consumers why are they aloud to penalice the poor if you overdraft the account they charge you even if you go over by a penny if i dont have that penny what makes you think i have 29 dollars to give you how stupid are we that we are allowing this we need good credit for everything after alost my job lost my house my family do you think i have good credit are you people stupid or what we need a president with big balls to change all this or we the people need to say no more and stop them because the fat rats are to fat allready

acmod - typical crap with Chase.  STILL trying to work with them after being approved, but “not really,” they’ve sent payments back to me, told me “don’t pay it until everything’s been processed,”  “accept it or we’ll liquidate,”  “we don’t do FHA loans even though yours IS one, so we didn’t even consider you for a HAMP even though you applied,” blah blah blah.  The best one from Carol Masters yet was, are you ready????  “Well, honey, even though you don’t have a joint tenant, just put a little sticky note on the mod docs stating that even though you’ve already sent us the QCD.  You can send that again, too, and we’ll go from there.  K?”  Um, not - I’m NOT signing docs with false statements in them.  Um, no, I’m not sending docs AGAIN (would be the 13th time). Um, no, I won’t “just sign it and go from there.”  Chase is by far WORSE than BOA - “All HUD will allow us to offer you is OUR CHAMP - it’s our in-house mod and it excellent even if the payments are 47% of your monthly gross income.”  So, then Carol told me “you have no right to see the HUD calculations or the recommendations they sent.  In fact, you’ll never get a hold of them.”  Oh, really?  FORENSIC AUDIT and SEE YOU IN COURT.  “This call is being recorded for quality assurance purposes, Ms. Masters.  Havea nice day.”  :)

Dear fellow distressed homeowners. If a few of us were to chain ourselves to the fence at the White House, do you feel it might help our position? If so, I have plenty of chain!


Dec. 23, 2010, 2:22 a.m.

Roy, I’m all for it. Wan to start organizing it?
Maureen Believe it or not, Typical of Chase
Send your complaints to:
Fannie Mae
Frddie Mac
Your district attorney
Your congressman
OCC (office of the comptroller of the currency)
and sent copies to CHASE !

Thanks, acmod.  I do that every time I write a letter or send an email - I cc EVERYONE.  OCC case has been “under review” since June and is STILL “under review.”  The D.A.???  Good one!!  I’ll do that today!!  Thanks!

How do other states besides Nevada and Arizona start a lawsuit?? I think if we get enough states to join in maybe the Government will get involved. I know these banks already lied to Congress! This is criminal. I have prayed for other people besides homeowners to speak up regarding this. I wrote to Hamp asking them speak up so that others could see the process is bogus from the very beginning and BOA never had any intention on helping ANYONE. I think everyone is aware of this misconduct but maybe just maybe the tides are turning.  also does anyone know how I would go about getting some legal information regarding homeowners associations? Right now I feel like BOA has a gun to me on one side and the HOA has a taser on the other. INJUSTICE!!!

AdriAnne-You should get in contact with your local Legal Aid Society. Some states have been given grants so it might not cost you anything. I have 2 homeowner association fees I pay every month. I do know if you don’t pay they can put a lien against your property. If nothing else e-mail me with the question and I can ask my lawyer (although Hawaii law may differ). Have you stayed in touch with Michael? Now more than ever you need to have someone who has dealt in these matters before work with you. Stay strong!

BOA like the snake that is what they are, I been trying to do a modification for seven years, now they are going to auction my home next month.

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