Richmond County, GA -- It's called mortgage servicing fraud. It's happening all over the country and it could cost you your home if you become a victim of it.
It works like this:
You're paying your mortgage on time every month, but without you knowing, the company that collects your money begins to add on all sorts of fees.
Pretty soon, those fees add up too high for you to pay and then, poof, you're being foreclosed on.
The following two homeowners have not had their claims proven in court, but tell us they nearly lost their homes because of what they didn't know.
Rodney Hale is living what most homeowners would consider a nightmare.
He tells 12 On Your Side, "I feel like there's so much equity in here and they're just trying to take advantage of it anyway they can."
He's talking about his mortgage company, Wells Fargo. A company he feels is trying to unfairly take his home away.
Not too long ago, Rodney requested a payoff. That means he wanted to know how much he still owed on his home.
That's when the surprises started rolling in. The principle amount was right, but those weren’t the extra fees.
"Still to this day I don't know what those other fees are," he said.
There were nearly $5000 dollars of them in all; the main one being the vague "recoverable corporate advance."
"They won't tell me what it is," he said.
But Rodney is far from the only one with this problem. Bernard Simmons is in the same boat. "They threatened me with foreclosure," he said.
Bernard's troubles are with a company called Wendover Mortgage. He recently was told he had missed a payment. "But they couldn't prove it," he said.
Still however, he was told to pay several hundred dollars or he could lose his house.
So, he asked for an itemized record of his account.
Records show he missed a payment in December of 2004, which Bernard says he absolutely paid.
When asked if the company could explain when or why, he says it couldn't.
We should tell you that neither of these companies have been convicted of any wrong-doing in these cases, but the FTC has investigated these kinds of claims with a separate company before.
Back in 2003, the FTC charged a company called Fairbanks Capital with charging illegal and unauthorized fees. Fairbanks settled for $40 million dollars.
We did contact both Wendover Mortgage and Wells Fargo about Rodney and Bernard's cases. Both companies say they are looking into the situations, but right now they stand by the extra charges.
Either way, these are two men who just want their nightmares to end and their peace of mind returned.
"I feel like they're trying to rob me. They're trying to take something from me that is just about paid for," said Bernard.
"I'm just trying to get the house paid for so I got something to give my kids," said Rodney.
Again, neither of these cases have ever been proven in court.
12 On Your Side has been trying to reach both mortgage companies for the past two weeks.
Just today we were able to get some answers for Rodney and Bernard.
Both those homeowners now tell News 12 the mortgage companies are listening and it appears they are trying to make things right.
Some things you can to do to keep this from happening to you:
- Keep all your mortgage statements.
- Every year, ask for a transaction history.
- In addition to that, you can always call 1-800-FTC-HELP to file a complaint.