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Widow fights back against aggressive Bank of America servicing tactics

Losing a spouse and dealing with a mortgage

On August 2, 2010, Hawaiian homeowner Deborah Crabtree’s husband died of cancer, and as any widow or widower, she was left to put the family affairs in order, including their mortgage. According to court documents, for the last several years, the couple has paid their first mortgage ($467,400 in 2005) and second mortgage ($93,000 in 2006) after the due date of the first but before the grace period ending on the 15th. Crabtree alleges that on August 3, 2010, for the first time ever, the bank called her insisting payment was due although they typically paid closer to the 15th on their mortgages.

Crabtree says she explained to the BOA officer that the day prior, her husband passed away from cancer and she would need thirty days to get everything in order. As she told them between tears that she expected life insurance to pay out in that time, she also noted she only had $5,000 on hand to bury her husband and feed her family. The officer allegedly told her that if she had that much money on hand, she could take care of her mortgages (implying they should come first).

Not the type of condolence calls they expected

She notes that she prepared her answering machine to accept condolence calls during this period, but on the day of the wake hosted at her home, “a debt collector from Bank of America Home Loan Servicing called every 15 minutes and left harassing messages about the debts her husband had left behind that everyone in the house could hear.” Crabtree alleges she received roughly 48 calls the day after her husband’s wake, many of which were foreclosure threats.

BOA told her the calls would not stop as they were automated, and until she paid, they would continue. On August 18th, only three days late, Crabtree received her husband’s life insurance check and immediately paid her first and second mortgage. Court documents state that on the same day, Crabtree must mail the death certificate and proof that she has Power of Attorney over his trust. Crabtree claims to have complied, but BOA said otherwise and demanded the package be sent again.

Bank insists she has no right to be in her house

To add insult to injury, the mortgages were then changed from her and her husband’s name to simply his estate and Crabtree alleges BOA continued to call, requesting to speak with the husband and when told repeatedly he had passed away, she was told they could not speak with her about the account because she was no longer on the note. The bank then told her that she had no right to be in the house as it belongs to her husband and insisted she had obtained the property through “false pretenses, a crime of moral turpitude.”

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After they finally cleared that up, they repeatedly insisted she had inadequate hurricane insurance as required, despite the insurance company directly faxing her policy to BOA and assessed $5,401 due to them which was eventually reversed but not after allegedly harassing Crabtree, claiming it is their legal right to call every 15 minutes when a debt is owed. In January, a BOA clerk erred on her phone payment and she began receiving calls that her payments were late. Court records show that when she finally spoke to a BOA Supervisor who was reviewing her records, Crabtree was told, “Oh my God, what are they doing to you?”

With Supervisor help, her payments were posted, she called an 800 number as directed to confirm the payments had been processed properly, was told she was “good to go” and believed the situation to be closed. Within weeks, she began receiving notices of BOA’s intent to accelerate on her second mortgage (which she had confirmed went through along with her first mortgage which she did not receive a notice on). The automated calls began shortly thereafter.

State debt collection laws allegedly violated

The suit claims BOA has violated state debt collection laws and although BOA has not yet commented on the case, a spokeswoman told CNN simply that the bank informs surviving family members when they are not responsible for debt left behind. The lawsuit alleges much more than calls about responsibility of a debt, as BOA has dropped the ball so many times on a single address, it is appalling.

Source: The Circuit Court of the First Circuit in the State of Hawaii.

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Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.


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