Old mortgages rise from the dead, haunt homeowners
Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:46pm EST
By Michelle Conlin
(Reuters) - In July 2009, Roy and Sheila Bowers refinanced the mortgage on their suburban ranch home in Topeka, Kansas. The couple wanted to take advantage of the low interest rates that were all the rage at the time.
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But what the Bowers never imagined was that their old loan, the one Wells Fargo told them was paid off, would resurrect itself, trashing their credit report, scotching their son's student loans and throwing the whole family into foreclosure. All, they say, even though they didn't miss a single mortgage payment.
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"It's the most egregious manifestation of an industry that's seriously broken," said Ira Rheingold, a lawyer who is the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocate.
Diane Thompson, an attorney with the National Consumer Law Center, says she has defended hundreds of foreclosure cases, and in nearly all of them, the homeowner was not in default. "The record-keeping on the part of the mortgage servicers is not to be trusted."