Complaints and Escalations Information
(By Jason Ian Hector--03/13/2015) Most Real Estate Professions and Homeowners are not aware of the HAMP Solution Center and that they themselves or an authorized third party can open an escalation or file a complaint with the bank's regulator by visiting www.helpwithmybank.gov or www.consumerfinance.gov. The consumer finance website is the newly formed and combined Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and their website is very user friendly as well.
Surprisingly, almost everyone I encounter is not familiar with the HAMP Solution Center. This is a great resource that I often use, especially when I have just a general question about any of the Making Home Affordable Programs. The HAMP Solution Center should be used if you are currently being reviewed for one of the Making Home Affordable programs like HAFA or the HAMP Loan Modification Program. Homeowners or authorized third parties can open an escalation with the U.S. Treasury Department's HAMP Solution Center (HSC) who handles complaints about lenders and servicing companies who do not follow the program the Making Home Affordable program guidelines. The HSC has designated liason's who they work with at each lender making the process more professional and handled by upper management at the lender.
In my experience, it is very common for lenders / servicers to not follow the MHA guidelines which can be found in the latest version of the MHA Handbook. The HAMP Solution Center is a great resource for clients and real estate professionals. I am hearing cases of homeowners being kicked out of the HAFA short sale program recently. This has been an ongoing issue and the case escalation processes are an essential resource for consumer protection to mortgage holders. Working with a real estate agent or broker who is familiar with complaint submissions is important consideration.
From www.hmpadmin.com (03/13/2015):
Contact the Appropriate Escalation Team
If escalating to the servicer's senior management does not resolve the issue, escalate the issue using the following contact table:
Gather the necessary case information and homeowner consent.
If you are seeking assistance for a specific homeowner, you will be required to provide the escalation team with a written authorization from the homeowner authorizing the escalation team and the servicer to share the homeowner's personal financial information with you. The written homeowner authorization must be received by the escalation team before status information can be shared with you. Additional instructions are available as needed from the escalation team.
The information that a counselor will need to supply for case escalation includes the following:
Keep in mind that the HAMP Solution Center will only handle escalations for borrowers in the U.S. Treasury sponsored programs like Making Home Affordable or the HAFA Short Sale program.
To start, first, I work through your normal contacts and channels with the servicer. If that does not resolve the issue, elevate your concern to a senior manager within the servicer's organization.
Below are some examples from the HAMP website as well as the summary of the escalation process and a list of cases that represent valid reasons for escalation:
- Inquiries regarding improper program denials.
- Servicer refuses to stop a scheduled foreclosure sale on a borrower's house while the borrower is being evaluated for HAMP or other program.
- Servicer did not assess the homeowner for the applicable MHA program(s) according to program guidelines.
- Servicer instructs the borrower to miss a payment.
- Servicer advises the borrower to intentionally misrepresent their personal or financial information.
- Servicer is not responding to borrowers inquiries in a timely manner regarding MHA program(s)
- Servicer says they are not participating in HAMP, but the loan's investor is a GSE.
- Servicer says borrower doesn't qualify, but counselor has reason to believe that the borrower is eligible.
From www.hmpadmin.com (03/13/2015):
What to Expect Next
- Servicer date stamps the file for tracking purposes upon receipt.
- Servicers are not required to suspend a foreclosure sale when an Escalated Case is received on or after midnight of the seventh business day prior to the foreclosure sale date (Deadline). If an Escalated Case is received prior to the Deadline, the servicer must suspend the foreclosure sale as necessary to resolve the Escalated Case.
- Servicers are not required to review substantially similar cases and substantially similar cases will not be deemed an Escalated Case. A substantially similar case is a case that pertains to the same homeowner and loan and is substantially similar to a previously resolved Escalated Case.
- The servicer acknowledges the Requestor's Escalated Case in writing via e-mail, fax or mail within five business days of receipt.
- The servicer will provide the Requestor and the homeowner:
- Case reference name or number.
- Date by which the servicer will resolve the Escalated Case and provide a response (Resolution Date).
- A toll-free escalation phone number at the servicer.
- The Resolution Date may not exceed 30 calendar days from the date the inquiry was received by the servicer.
- Servicer reviews Escalated Case against the information and documentation in their system of record and data reported to the HAMP Reporting Tool to determine the accuracy of the inquiry and reach a resolution.
- Servicer reviews or recalculates the HAMP modification waterfalls and NPV testing if the evidence submitted by the homeowner is valid and material to the NPV outcome.
Servicer Resolution and Notification
- The servicer determines whether a change in the original determination is warranted and identifies a proposed resolution.
- The servicer documents the proposed resolution in the servicing system of record including the date resolution was reached.
- The servicer, within 10 business days of identifying a proposed resolution, communicates the proposed resolution and next steps in writing to the Requestor and the homeowner.
- If the case was referred by HSC, the servicer may not consider the case resolved unless HSC concurs with the proposed resolution, with evidence of this concurrence retained in the servicing file.
Homeowner Resources for Complaints & Victims of Scams
- Office of the Comptroller of the Currency -- The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency provides tips and materials to help homeowners avoid mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue scams. Find them here. Also at www.helpwithmybank.gov. This is the regulator for most banks and can handle customer complaints filed as well.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau -- This new agency was created to span across Federal and state government and the private sector to target mortgage loan modification fraud and foreclosure rescue scams that threaten to hurt American homeowners and prevent them from getting the help they need during these challenging times. Complaints can be filed on their website at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/.
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force -- The Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force maintains a wide list of resources and information dedicated to helping find and report suspected cases of financial fraud. Visit www.StopFraud.gov.
- If you think you were a victim of fraud, you can contact the Department of Consumer Affairs--Fraud Division at 213-974-1450 or 800-973-3370.
- If your complaint is against an attorney, visit the State Bar of California website or call 800-843-9053.