Freddie Mac Unaware Of Homeowner Complaints, Inspector General Concludes
For more than five years, many homeowners who complained about mortgage industry foreclosure abuses have wondered whether anyone with a financial stake in keeping them in their home was paying attention. On Thursday, with the release of a new report from a federal watchdog, they got their answer: No.
The report, by the inspector general of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, says banks and other companies that manage more than 10 million home loans for Freddie Mac “largely failed” to alert the mortgage giant to the most serious category of homeowner complaints, despite a requirement they do so. These “escalated complaints” often include the most serious allegations of misconduct, including improper fees, misapplied mortgage payments and a frustrating cycle of lost paperwork and unreturned calls. In some instances, the mismanagement has led to a wrongful foreclosure.
“The results are shocking on a number of different levels,” said Steve Linick, the FHFA inspector general, in an interview with The Huffington Post. “It is surprising that servicers were not reporting in such large numbers, that Freddie was not on top of this, and that [the FHFA] did not catch it in its exam.”
Four of the largest bank servicers — Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citigroup and Provident — reported no escalated cases to Freddie Mac, despite handling more than 20,000 over a 14-month period, according to the report. Freddie Mac examiners did not notice that the mortgage companies were failing to disclose the complaints, nor did the FHFA, which relied on “incomplete” Fannie Mae examinations, the report concludes. The FHFA oversees the bailed out lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.