Mortgage Nightmares Come True

Jo Scheck's American dream -- her own home -- was lost when the mortgage payments for her Bel Air, Md., townhouse skyrocketed.

"You get this letter April 3, 2000, telling you that your mortgage payments have been increased by $400 a month?" asked CBS News Correspondent Randall Pinkston.

"Right," Scheck replied.

For years, she'd paid $900 until her mortgage servicer, Ocwen Financial Corporation, said they hadn't collected enough for the escrow. Ocwen reduced the payments by $100, but not enough for Scheck, who was forced into foreclosure.

"This is a mistake that they admitted making. They said, you know, sometimes things like this fall thru the cracks," she said.

In Hartford, Conn., Kweku Hanson claims Ocwen tacked on homeowner insurance he didn't need, and never credited the thousands in extra payments he'd made on his loan.

"The money went to Ocwen, that's all I know," Hanson said.

"How much do you think you've lost?" asked Pinkston.

"I would say at least $8,000," Hanson answered.

Hanson has filed a lawsuit against Ocwen alleging unfair consumer practices. Ocwen calls his charges baseless.

Hanson and Scheck are among hundreds of homeowners who have complained about Ocwen's mortgage servicing practices -- complaints that include misapplied payments, bogus late fees, and erroneous threats of foreclosure.

"We've seen many consumers who have proof of their mortgage payments but nonetheless are receiving harassing phone calls, default notices and legal complaints leading to foreclosure, inappropriately," said David Berenbaum, National Consumer Reinvestment Coalition..

In a statement to CBS News, Ocwen says they "resolve delinquencies in eight out of ten cases..." that there's "no financial benefit to Ocwen in foreclosing..." Ocwen says they are "closely monitored by federal regulators."

In 2000, the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that Ocwen had violated rules and regulations on loans Ocwen serviced for HUD. Ocwen agreed to pay $50,000 of HUD's costs to settle the accusations.

"There's a real need, I'll add, for better policy and regulation of our mortgage industry especially in the sub-prime marketplace," Berenbaum said.

At the least, Jo Scheck wants an apology for her foreclosure -- one she believes should never have happened.

  • Bootie Cosgrove-Mather

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