Wednesday, May 29, 2013

BOA Mortgage Relief: Inaccurate Dating of Legal Documents

Bank of America Mortgage Relief: Inaccurate Dating of Legal Documents

Bank of America's practice in mortgage loan relief / loss mitigation matters is to send documents out with inaccurate dates, often leading to unfair "deadlines".

As an attorney who represents many homeowners and other mortgage loan borrowers in mortgage relief, mortgage dispute, and foreclosure cases, I of course have to be very aware of relevant deadlines, whether imposed by courts, mortgage lenders, loan servicers, or anyone else. It's well-established that a document should accurately reflect the date that the document is sent out, with perhaps a 24 hour grace period for non-legal documents. BOA - Mayan CalendarWhy, then, are almost all documents we receive in the mail from Bank of America (including documents sent via overnight mail, and including binding legal agreements with formal deadlines) sent out at least 7 to 10 days after the date on the document?

When this happens once in a while, and for items not sent overnight mail, you figure that it could be a normal delivery delay. However, after years of this, it's very clear that BOA's system is intended to send key documents out well after the date on the document. Why do I say it's intentional? Because any such "problem" is not difficult to fix, so a repeating pattern for years is a clear indication of intent. I would also point out that this is generally not the case with other lenders/loan servicers.

If you are wondering why this matters, consider this actual scenario:

  1. After being given the run-around for years, the borrowers are offered a trial modification, which they accept.

  2. Borrowers successfully complete the 3 month trial modification period and are waiting for the permanent modification offer, which does not arrive when expected. Borrowers are concerned, as the month is half over and the assumption is that some payment will be due at the end of the month, but the amount and terms are unknown, since the trial period is over.

  3. Calls have to be made to Bank of America to ask "What is going on?"

  4. Bank of America finally sends a permanent modification offer. The date on the documents is 12 days earlier than when the documents were sent out (provable by the tracking data).

  5. By the time the borrowers receive the permanent modification contract offer via overnight mail - 12 days after the date on the documents - the deadline for accepting the offer is only days away. Borrowers have almost no time to consider the offer and have it reviewed by an attorney, and are thus feel forced to accept at risk of again facing foreclosure.

The Federal Government monitors certain deadlines imposed on mortgage lenders and mortgage loan servicers. What Bank of America has done is created a paper trail which shows, on its face, that documents were sent in a timely fashion and that the borrowers had plenty of time to respond. Ok, well, fine, we can prove the actual timeline - but to whom? A huge misconception is that there are courts out there, just waiting for wronged borrowers to walk in the door, for free, and get these kind of situations resolved easily and quickly. This simply isn't true.

I ask you, dear readers . . . do any of you use this business practice, dating documents and then not sending them out for weeks?I bet you don't - both because it's wrong and because it would cause your customers to lose faith in you. For me, it would also be an ethical violation which would cost me my law licenses. For Bank of America, it's standard practice.