Oh, those charmers at seterus Mortgage

Do you know who owns your mortgage? Wanna bet?

In 2004, the nice New York couple who rented me my house decided to retire to San Diego instead of Las Vegas. They asked me if I wanted to buy. It sounded easier than moving. I asked the folks at my bank, then called Bank West of Nevada, if they issued mortgage loans, thinking it would be nice not only to patronize a local business, and also to be able to go down the street and visit my mortgage holder in person if there was ever a problem. They told me they did.

That wasn’t quite true. When I sat down to sign the forms, it turned out my lender was an outfit called RBMG, which had been acquired in 2001 by NetBank, an Internet-only outfit which was to fail massively in 2007.

Within weeks, my “RBMG” mortgage was turned over to Countrywide, or so I thought. Then, when Countrywide tanked, I was told to start sending in payments to Bank of America.

By this October, my checks were heading to an outfit called “seterus” — yes, lower-case “s” — apparently in Pasadena, California, though I now learn that address is a glorified mail drop.

I’ve sent them three checks, each one for a different amount. For the payment due Oct.1, I was told to use the old Bank of America invoice and payment amount — $1,572.64. For Nov. 1, they billed me $1,535.33. For my payment due Dec. 1, the coupon said to pay $1,498.02.

On Dec. 5 — despite the fact the payment is not considered “past due” till Dec. 16 — one Christopher Hill called me at work from the seterus office in Beaverton, Oregon, complaining my payment due Dec. 1 had not been received. I told him I’d mailed the check Nov. 28.

Lo and behold, Mr. Hill searched his computer files and found such a payment HAD been received, but that it had not “credited.” It was being held “in suspense” because it was short by more than $10 from the $1535.33 required.

I told him I wouldn’t have made up a figure like $1,498.02 out of thin air; that must surely have been the amount requested on their coupon. He asked me to check. I told him I would.

At home that evening, I found the statement. But of course the coupon wasn’t there — I’d mailed it in with my payment, as instructed.

I tried to call seterus back at 9:30 the next morning, at the only number they provide, 866-570-5277. After “pushing 1 for English” (Spanish language service is provided for illegals whose mortgages have been acquired by the federal government) I spent 22 minutes listening to the kind of instrumental music they play at skating rinks.

I checked online. No other phone numbers. Now pay attention, because this works:

I proceeded to call information for Portland, Oregon. Under “state government,” I asked for the number of the Oregon state Division of Finance and Corporate Securities. These nice folks answered their phones immediately, and were happy to tell me “seterus” isn’t an Oregon corporation, at all. All the corporate contact information was in “Research Triangle, North Carolina,” where the main number for the CEO, CFO, and corporate counsel (all good people to speak to if you can’t get through on the skating-rink line) is 888-576-5277. Furthermore, the “corporate contact person” is one Karen Pollock, at 919-517-1217, e-mail kbpolloc@us.ibm.com.

No “k.” Also no “seterus.” Instead … “IBM.”

‘NOT THIRTY-SEVEN DOLLARS. THIRTY-SEVEN DOLLARS AND THIRTY-ONE CENTS’

I left a message for Karen Pollock in North Carolina. I then tried the telephone boiler room in Beaverton again, finally reaching not Christopher Hill but one Julie Knox, who wanted the last four digits of my Social Slave number. Since my Social Security card says right on it “Not for Purposes of Identification” and I had no intention of seeking any government retirement benefits, I declined. (Anyone who knows when and where you were born can reconstruct the first five digits of your Social Slave number in a heartbeat. And no, they don’t already have it. Seterus recently sent me a W-9 “request for Social Security number,” the only “servicer” ever to do so. I asked my accountant why. He said, “That means they’ve lost your Social Security number. Don’t give it to them.”)

Eventually she relented, insisting the “amount due” showing on my November coupon had been $1,535.33, and I would be considered delinquent unless I mailed them another $37.31.

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Isn’t it possible that because the first amount I sent you back in September was $1,572.64, based on the old B of A invoice which you instructed me to use, and you’ve decided to reduce the amount of escrow in your monthly bill and are now billing me $1535.33, you didn’t end up with $37.31 sitting ‘in suspense,’ and to take care of that you didn’t simply send me a November monthly statement asking me to pay $1,498.02?” I asked.

Absolutely not, said Julie Knox.

“OK. I’ll mail you the thirty-seven dollars,” I said.

“Not thirty-seven dollars,” she said. “Thirty-seven dollars and thirty-one cents.”

Well, well. Talk about precision.

So, including $4.50 “to buy Christopher and Karen and Julie each a cup of coffee,” I wrote out a check for $41.81, along with a lengthy hand-written cover note, which will require them to spend hours sending me a written reply.

Why? Because seterus is governed by labyrinthine U.S. government protocols on how to handle disputes and inquiries, because seterus doesn’t own my mortgage, any more than Countrywide or B of A ever did.

I asked everyone I spoke to Tuesday who owns that note. In the end, everyone agreed my note is owned by the Federal National Mortgage Association, Fannie Mae, the actuarially bankrupt government mortgage devourer. All these other outfits — including the latest one, which is a division of IBM, as hard as they may work to conceal that — merely refer to themselves as “servicers,” like the gals down at the local Asian Massage parlor.

By the time I had my check for $41.81 ready to go, the phone rang again.

You’ve already guessed, haven’t you? Karen Pollock in “Research Triangle, North Carolina,” anxious not to talk to me, had contacted one Michelle Patterson, in seterus’ Consumer and Government Affairs office in Beaverton, Ore., who can be reached at 503-270-4036. She’d looked into my account, and what do you suppose she figured out?

“Because your first payment to us was for $1,572.64, off the old B of A coupon we told you to use, we had an extra $37.31 sitting ‘in suspense,’ so the amount on your payment coupon due Dec. 1 was $1,498.02, which was the amount you sent us. They billed you that lesser amount to make it all come out even.”

Just like I told Christopher and Julie?

“Yes. Unfortunately, that $37.31 had sat there for so long that it got credited as an additional payment against your principle, and that’s why they didn’t see it on their screens and were telling you to send in an extra $37. So what I did is I grabbed that back and applied it to your December balance, so now you’re even and you don’t need to send us anything.”

Yeah, and she’ll still respect me in the morning.

“Who owns this note?” I asked.

“Fannie Mae.”

“When Fannie Mae bought this note, did they pay full face value, or did they pay an amount discounted to market?” I asked.

Michelle Patterson told me she didn’t know.

“Because if they paid full face value for a bunch of Las Vegas mortgages, when the majority of houses here are upside down, that’s in effect a government bailout for the issuing banks, which would never have been able to collect full value on these loans, right?”

Michelle Patterson told me she didn’t know.

‘THAT’S WHY WE’RE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE NOW …’

So I called Fannie Mae in Washington, and spoke to their chief PR flack, Amy Bonitatibus, at 202-752-4144. Amy said she couldn’t be sure, since she didn’t have my file in front of her, but in all likelihood she believes Fannie Mae bought my note very shortly after it was issued, and that everyone I’ve been dealing with since then is merely “a servicer.”

And Fannie Mae doesn’t get these notes at a discount, given the odds that some of them will default or show losses through short sales?

No, Ms. Bonitatibus said. “When we buy the loan presumably we pay full face value. That’s why we’re in so much trouble now, why we’re showing these huge losses, because there are so many defaults.”

Well, why in heck WOULDN’T a mortgage writer sell a mortgage to the federal government at full face value, reducing their risk of loss to zero, since all the risk now belongs to taxpayers? Who dreamed that up, Barney Frank?

Yet on Aug. 5, on the Web site Hot Air (http://tinyurl.com/3ursvka) Ed Morrissey reported:

“Fannie Mae, which has already eaten over $100 billion of taxpayer money after being absorbed by the federal government in 2008, took a loss in the second quarter of $5.2 billion Ñ and they want taxpayers to cover it. …”

I wonder if Fannie Mae’s private, never-suffer-a-loss stockholders paid seterus on a “cost-plus” basis to have their staff spend all those hours on the phone with me Dec. 5 and 6 … over a bill that had already been paid on time and in full?

And I’m one of the few idiots who’s still diligently paying. How do you think their music-on-hold, “Send-us-$37-or-else” approach is working when it comes to charming the “Walk Away” gang?

For a hint, check Craig’s List for a new type of classified ad we’ve just started seeing here, offering to sell the cabinets, plumbing and copper pipe out of upside-down houses, urging buyers to “bring your tools and some cash.”

63 Comments to “Oh, those charmers at seterus Mortgage”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Hello guys,
    we’re trying to decide whether to continue paying our mortgage or stop. We’ve been paying our mortgage in full so far, every month !!!, but Seterus says we’re in foreclosure anyway. We have all of our savings invested into the home but on the other hand it’s still under water, and we can no longer afford an attorney. Can anyone offer advice?

  2. Lisa Says:

    Also, for folks wondering about the Capstone lawsuit, it’s only for folks that have been charged late fees fraudulently, but not for other types of fees, nor is it for folks who are in foreclosure or getting threats from Seterus. Let me know if I’m wrong, but I’m pretty sure you have to be in CA. (The lawsuit is currently in the Los Angeles Superior Court.)

  3. Freddy Says:

    Ask for the Reinstatement amount.

  4. Lisa Says:

    The reinstatement amount is right there on the mortgage statement. So?

  5. rebecca Fitzgerald Says:

    Our nightmare began when we bought this old gem back 2002. We poured our lifesavings into this fixure upper. My husband had a heartattack in 2004 after working two jobs..He had to stop one of them. I called on a modification . It took too years , to go through. Citi kept losing paperwork. Made us miss a payment and the 2 years waiting for the mod, they were charging my account 10,ooo to do and a monthy bipatch inspection of 64 dollars amonth. We finally got approved – we paid 2 weeks early and sent them a 2ooo dollar escrow. The very first month they put the monies paid on extra escrow and extra principal and made us late on our payment. I called they never fixed it .Then month after month they made us delinquent by adding a mere 40 cent servicing fee, thus charging us 300 a month in delinquency. They threatened us with foreclosure . I beat them to the punch and filed chapt 13 to buy time. did not work. While in chapter 7 , they did some fancy paper work and transferred the note from mers to citi. ( citi did not own it , even though they did the mod) until chapter 13 was filed. within a month citi transferred to seterus. Now seterus was charging us 10000 more on the note, charging us the transfer fee??? Last year , my husband and I looked at each other, evaluated the house and needed repairs, no equity and said lets a put a bow on the dump and give it back. We put it in chapter 7 and have lived here mortgage and debt free. The joke is on them. It will cost these thiefs thousands of dollars to fix the roof, heating system , leaking basement , collapsing porch , broken windows and foreclosure process. and dumpster fees to clean it out of the stuff we are leaving behind. I feel like victor one up. Now I am going to ask them for the note and moving fees, or I stay with squatting rights

  6. Mike Says:

    I read these comments and I wonder what are we in for! I was just informed by BOA that my loan has been transferred to these thief’s. spent about 6 hours reading all that I can read all over the multiple web pages about there practice. Just got my account number, They raised my payment by $75/month for good explanation from the rep I talked to today. I am one payment behind as of this month. My question is Can I refinance the loan and run away from them ? will they allow it? I hear that it is so difficult to get the Payoff. Please response.

    Why and how can they get away from doing all that?

  7. Phil Says:

    Mike, how did u get your account number from them?

  8. Mike Says:

    They mailed me a package 2 months after the intial letter from BOA about the trasfer. Today they mailed me via Fed-Ex a ” Important offer of Assistance” which is the options I have. My loan is current so I do not kmow what it is all about.

  9. Phil Says:

    Mike,
    How did u pay the first two months before receiving the loan number? Were u unable to set up the online profile for 2 months? I don’t like the fact they are sending u an assistance package. I am going to do everything in my power to get a refi out of this or pay off the loan. Please let me know how u have been paying. Thanks

  10. Mike Says:

    Phil, As soon as I got my account number I sent them 2 Cashiers checks for both month’s payments I was behind, mail it there overnight address. Make sure you have paper trace of all payments you send and all phone calls, letters, Payments, … documented. Before you refinance make sure that the Bank or lender is not assosiated Fannie other wise they will sell you back to them as some people mentioned. If you have an escrow account watch it closely and dispute all extra fees via letters to them. I have been reading alot but now I am really much calmer …. Just stay on top of them with fees and Escrow, You should do what is called A Qualified Written Request (QWR) which is a legal written correspondence to your mortgage servicer requesting that they detail and document the fees, and never pay late and pay only via Certified funds Checks and use and I think we all will be fine.

    If you find a lender to re-finance that has nothing to do with Fanni let me know.

  11. Phil Says:

    Mike,
    I have read the things you are saying regarding the fees and escrow, but I must disagree. I think we are in the same boat as the stories I have read of people who pay every month but Seterus still creates some BS to force the home in to foreclosure. They are obviously uncooperative in resolving mistakes in order to speed up forclosure. I am going to contact a lawyer tomorrow. What do u think?

  12. mike Says:

    Phil, I do agree with you 100%. I was just trying to make it easy on my self I gusse to sleep at night. Let me know what your lawyer have to say. I found this while looking some things take a look at it. http://seteruscomplaints.com/?page_id=2

  13. Phil Says:

    Mike,
    Did u not get your account number until 2 months later? Was that when the welcome pack arrived? What was in the welcome pack? Was there a current statement? Had they already made changes to your escrow by then? Had they applied any late fees?

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