Review Finds 4 Million People Wrongfully Foreclosed On

Once again, the banks are given a pass for their criminal behavior, while homeowners are given the shaft. Tuesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve announced the beginning of payments for some of those people whose homes were wrongfully taken from them and the settlements are, as Chris Hayes put it, "cartoonishly small."
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Once again, the banks are given a pass for their criminal behavior, while homeowners are given the shaft: 4 million people wrongfully foreclosed on. Can they get their houses back?:

Imagine you are a homeowner who has made your mortgage payments on time. Or pretend for a moment that you have been informed you are entitled to relief or promised a modification. Now, imagine that in spite of all that, you receive a foreclosure notice, which the bank follows through on.

That is the reality for the 4 million people the banks wrongfully foreclosed on between 2009-2010. Tuesday, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve announced the beginning of payments for some of those people whose homes were wrongfully taken from them.

As Hayes explained in the clip above, "given the scale of the deception and error, the amount of money on the table for those who've been victimized, is in most instances, cartoonishly small."

Here's more from Salon on Alexis Goldstein's What You Can Buy for Having Your House Stolen Tumblr page -- Bank stole your house? Have 10 pitchforks’ worth of compensation:

First as tragedy, then as farce. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) announced Tuesday details of how much money the banks will pay homeowners who were found to be wrongfully foreclosed on, or who suffered financial harm at the hands of the banks. Just as a sampling, individuals who had loan modifications approved by banks but were still foreclosed upon will receive a paltry $300. Six hundred seventy-nine people were faced with foreclosure even though they were never once in default; they will be compensated $5,000.

Former Wall Street V.P. and current Occupy Wall Street activist and member of Strike Debt Alexis Goldstein took it upon herself Tuesday to put the payouts in a little context. She created a site detailing “What You Can Buy for Having Your House Stolen,” on which she lists a varied taxonomy of items the compensation can afford wrongfully foreclosed individuals — all the items that are not your house back. Goldstein told Salon via email, “I’m hoping to (1) draw attention to the OCC, one of the lesser-known banking regulators who are completely captured by the banks. (2) point out how egregiously low these settlement numbers are.”

From the HuffPo -- Foreclosure Review Finds Potentially Widespread Errors:

Nearly a third of all foreclosed borrowers who faced proceedings brought by the biggest U.S. mortgage companies during the height of the housing crisis came to the brink of losing their homes due to potential bank errors or under now-banned practices, regulators have revealed.

Close to 1.2 million borrowers, or about 30 percent of the more than 3.9 million households whose properties were foreclosed on by 11 leading financial institutions in 2009 and 2010, had to battle potentially wrongful efforts to seize their homes despite not having defaulted on their loans, being protected under a host of federal laws, or having been in good standing under bank-approved plans to either restructure their mortgages or temporarily delay required payments. [...]

They are likely to further calls in Congress to either strengthen protections for borrowers or increase disclosures by the Federal Reserve and Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, both bank regulators. The regulators made public the latest figures as part of a previously announced multi-billion dollar settlement to resolve allegations of wrongdoing.

They reveal that nearly 700 borrowers who faced foreclosure proceedings had actually never defaulted on their loans. [...]

In recent years, JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America have struck multi-million dollar settlements with members of the armed services and the Department of Justice over wrongful foreclosures, leading Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan's chief executive, to personally apologize for his bank’s errors.

The remaining 1.1 million borrowers who had to fight foreclosure proceedings had either been granted a modified mortgage, which often entails reduced payments over a specified period of time, or had already been meeting all the requirements of a modification plan. This practice -- pursuing home repossessions while a borrower is either making the required payments under a modification plan or has been granted a reprieve -- is known in the industry as “dual tracking”.

Regulators have since severely restricted so-called “dual-tracking,” banning the practice outright in cases where a trial or permanent modification has been approved. Housing counselors and borrower advocates, however, say the practice remains widespread. Read on...

From Naked Capitalism -- GAO Report on Foreclosure Reviews Misses How Regulators Conspired with Banks Against Homeowners:

I suppose one has to be grateful for any official pushback against failed regulatory initiatives, such as the just-released GAO report criticizing the Independent Foreclosure Reviews. Of course, in this instance, I am charitably assuming that these reviews were a failure. They have certainly proven to be an embarrassment to the lead actor, the OCC, which has tried to maintain as low a profile as possible on this topic rather than offer any defenses.

But “failure” assumes that the OCC and the Fed did not achieve their real objective, which was to protect the banks. That hardly appears to be the case. The short story of the reviews is that to dampen down criticism of the many foreclosure horrors revealed in the media and in courtrooms all over the country, borrowers who were foreclosed on or had foreclosure actions underway in 2009 and 2010 were promised an independent review and compensation if they were found to have suffered financial harm. And even though the abrupt termination of the reviews has left the regulators with a lot of egg on their face, the result is that the banks paid a lot less than if the reviews had lived up to their billing. [...]

But what I found most striking was the way the GAO managed not to talk at all about how the borrower reviews were conducted. Yes, they did talk about the problems with borrower outreach, and also discussed in some detail how the regulators haven’t said much about how borrowers who asked for a review will be compensated, and they don’t look to have come up with a way to assure that similarly-situated borrowers at different servicers will be treated the same. But there was absolutely no consideration of the issues exposed by our whistleblowers: that the consultants and the servicers were working hard to suppress any findings of harm, when the evidence of harm was widespread.

Much more there so read the rest as well. The criminal activity by these banks just continues unabated.

Update: Here's more from Hayes and his panel, Eliot Spitzer, Faith Bautista and Alexis Goldstein, breaking down the details of the scandal.

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