SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA -- I would like to lodge a consumer complaint about the holder of my primary mortgage and my Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC): Countrywide Financial. I have held a Home Equity Line of Credit, with a credit limit of $37,000, with Countrywide for one year. In that time, I have borrowed a total of $4,000 from the account, to cover wedding expenses. The loan balance has since been paid off with no late payments or other adverse activity.
With the intention of purchasing a larger home in 2009, I planned to rely on my HELOC as partial down payment for a contract with Toll Brothers builders. Prior to signing a contract with Toll Brothers, I contacted Countrywide Financial to ensure that my HELOC was still active, with a credit limit of $37,000. The answer from a Countrywide customer representative was that my credit limit was still being honored.
Countrywide Bank, in a department called Home Equity Loan Servicing (SV3225 P.O. Box 10287, Van Nuys, CA 91410-0287) received a check request from me on July 3rd for the amount of $34,998. Countrywide refused to honor this check, and instead froze my HELOC account that day from any further withdrawals.Their response is included here in its entirety:
"Important Message about Your Loan. We are writing to let you know that recently a payment on a check against your home equity line of credit had to be denied. What This Means. Check number ** in the amount of $34,998 was denied on July 03, 2008 because: Your account no longer permits draws to be taken. What You Need to Do. Please update your records accordingly."
What is important to note about this chain of events is that my account and credit limit were in good standing until the very second I attempted to utilize the line of credit, at which point the account was "reviewed" and frozen. This is at best an ad-hoc and anti-consumer method of account review, and at worst a very obvious attempt to prevent the company from bleeding cash at the expense of customers in good standing.
While this activity is undoubtedly legal according to the terms and conditions of the HELOC (no doubt some clause allows them to freeze accounts at any time), I find it to be highly consumer unfriendly. At the very least, I feel cheated out of the $500+ in processing fees I paid for a now unusable HELOC.
The damage this has done to me is to put me in breach of contract with Toll Brothers, to whom I promised a 5% down payment on a new property in order for them to move forward and promise new construction. I believe I had reasonable expectation, and took sufficient precaution, to ensure that I was able to complete the terms of the contract I signed at that time (28 June, 2008) based on my HELOC. I will note that my HELOC account was in good standing on 28 June.
On the phone, Countrywide indicated that my account could be unfrozen only through a reappraisal of my property at my own expense, or through some signed affidavit of property exchange values by a licensed real estate agent. I have other sources of potential funding for my new home contract, but I would like to submit this as further evidence of California State Attorney General's contention of Countrywide's consumer unfriendly practices and policies. Thank you for your time and consideration.
RIVERSIDE, CALIFORNIA -- Countrywide home loans is responsible for me and my wife losing our house. About a year and a half ago we moved into our first house together using a loan that Countrywide recommended as "great new program" for people like us. (Whatever that was supposed to mean.) We were told that it would be an interest only loan that would only stay fixed (percentage rate) for one year. We understood that we should get out of the loan after that first year. And in the mean time we would be making payments that were a little over the minimum payment so we would be able to still effect the balance (principle) and not just pay on interest.
When we started to go into the refinance this year we found out that not only was it an interest only loan, it was actually a "negative loan." Meaning that as we were making payments that we thought were the minimum plus a little extra on our own, we were actually paying under the minimum. So our balance (principal) was actually going up during that year and when the year was up (in April) it began to go up at a frightening pace.
Our total amount owed has no gone up about $20,000 in less than a year and a half while we have been making payments all along! We are no told that in order to stay in the house, our minimum payment would now be over $1,000 more a month. We cannot afford to keep the house now and we will be leaving soon.
FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA -- I am very hesitant about putting my money on a CD from countrywide. First I see the rate they offer for CDs on the internet and it's nice but only for accounts open over the internet. Second as I fill the information and I get to the second phase, just about to place my account number and routing number it tells me that it will take up to three days to be verified and ONLY then I will get the rate when the account if verified. To me that's three days later and rates change daily. So the rate they promise over the internet won't be the rate I may get because of the time it takes for my account and money to be verified.
This is a trick to attract people to sign for this high rate CD with a minimum of $10,000. I am very sure that someone in Countrywide Bank that get paid a lot for this strategy has thought of this, I am just a soldier in the US Army and work hard for my money.
LAKEWOOD, COLORADO -- I lost my job (as a Mortgage Loan Closer) and contacted Countrywide to see if I could refinance to lower my payment. The loan officer said I could do the FastTrack loan and eagerly took my non-refundable $380.00 fee. Three months later I haven't heard back from them. My phone call, which of course every one passed the buck, revealed I was denied approval for a new loan. How nice of them to contact me and let me know! By this time I cannot make my mortgage payments. I call again to get help. What a joke! No help available... "just stop making your payments" is what I got out of it. Absolutely a waste of time and $380.
Recently my mortgage of 3 years was transferred or bought out by Countrywide Mortgage. I received my first month's payment statement from them and Wallah! I already had a late fee. I went round and round with their customer service rep and receive a condescending letter from Countrywide telling me I should pay on time.
The next month when I receive the statement with the late fee, I call and I'm told it will be removed. Later that day I receive a phone call from them recanting that promise and they explain that the late fee is from a year ago and was with the previous mortgage company. What?? I never received a notice from my prior mortgage company and I overpaid the mortgage payment each month. Why wouldn't they have deducted it from the overpayment? Well, Countrywide can't explain that, but can assure me that one year ago I made a late payment and I should just pay this charge.
I tell them I will not and they inform me that if it doesn't get paid, they will freeze my account and it will damage my credit. You have no control over who buys your mortgage, but I am going to try to refinance to get rid of these guys for sure! They've had my mortgage 3 months and I've had nothing but problems with them.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK -- Customer service is an outrage! Every time you call you get voice mail and no return call. It took from July 31 to February 15 to settle a simple claim. My insurance company called them and had the same experience. We called claims department supervisors and managers - always the same voice mail without return calls. Stay away from this company!!! What company in this day and age does not have an email address.
We were signed up with Countrywide Home Mortgages when we bought our house. We paid every month never suspecting what Countrywide was actually doing with our payment. We discovered that Countrywide puts some of your payments in a special account just in case they decide to foreclose. The problem is the payment does not get to whom it is supposed to get to and therefore Countrywide claims they never got the payment. I even had one Countrywide representative ask me what they did with my payment.
My mother has just had her house foreclosed upon "by mistake" by Countrywide. Countrywide has acknowledge she has never made a payment late, but because that they are no longer writing loans, we cannot find anyone to remove the security lock they incorrectly placed on her rental home. They are HORRIBLE to deal with. We are now going on three months to remove their mistake.
TAMPA, FLORIDA -- My husband and I have had numerous loans with Countrywide over the last 12 years. We have always found them to be very professional, informative, friendly and all documentation was done in a timely manner. I would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone. We are right at this point in time doing a refinance with them and still getting that same friendly service.