In July 2009, Roy and Sheila Bowers refinanced the mortgage on their suburban ranch home in Topeka, Kansas. The couple wanted to take advantage of the low interest rates that were all the rage at the time.
Roy, a truck driver, and Sheila, a former hotel housekeeping supervisor, knew their new loan from Wells Fargo would enable them to save $198.86 a month - a nice chunk to help with gas and groceries.
But what the Bowers never imagined was that their old loan, the one Wells Fargo told them was paid off, would resurrect itself, trashing their credit report, scotching their son's student loans and throwing the whole family into foreclosure. All, they say, even though they didn't miss a single mortgage payment.
The Bowers are not alone.
More and more, homeowners say that mortgages they thought were dead and buried are springing back to life, sometimes haunting them all the way into foreclosure.
"It's the most egregious manifestation of an industry that's seriously broken," said Ira Rheingold, a lawyer who is the executive director of the National Association of Consumer Advocate.
According to several attorney generals, these problems are only going to intensify. Time to put your attorney general on speed dial, perhaps.