As a consumer bankruptcy attorney I often marvel at the amount of mysterious fees that mortgage companies charge consumers. For instance, I routinely see claims charging hundreds of dollars for inspections fees and appraisals. Recently I requested copies of the so-called inspections and appraisals for which the lender had charged my debtor. I am still waiting for the documents, by the way and question if they even exist. Even still, I find it unconscionable that mortgage companies would charge for payoff statements and fax fees. Only recently has this practice come to the attention of the mainstream media and consumer advocates. Consider a recent article in the New York Times which claims the fees aren’t chump change. Countrywide alone raked in $285 million in late fees from customers, a 20% rise from 2005 figures. The article states:
Bankruptcy specialists say lenders and loan servicers often do not comply with even the most basic legal requirements, like correctly computing the amount a borrower owes on a foreclosed loan or providing proof of holding the mortgage note in question.
“Regulators need to look beyond their current, myopic focus on loan origination and consider how servicers’ calculation and collection practices leave families vulnerable to foreclosure,” said Katherine M. Porter, associate professor of law at the University of Iowa.
Mmmm. How do you keep a failing lender from going bankrupt? One late fee at a time.