• Action 9 investigates mortgage relief program

    By: Gerry Mendiburt

    Updated:

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Local homeowners were promised hurricane relief by Wells Fargo, which would allow them to postpone three months of mortgage payments. But they're finding out the offer had fine print, and one local woman claims it will cost her a fortune. She called Action 9 consumer investigator Todd Ulrich for results.

     

    It started leaking through there,” said Rebecca Clark. It took months for her to fix a collapsed ceiling.

           

    Hurricane Irma repairs cost Clark several thousand dollars. That's why a Wells Fargo offer hit a sweet spot for her.

     

    “Specifically, the mortgage, no payments for 90 days while you get back on your feet,” said Clark.

     

    Clark signed up for the offer after hearing three missed payments would be added to the end of her loan.

     

    But then, last month, she received a disturbing call from Wells Fargo. A bank representative said she had to refinance to a 30-year loan to cover missed hurricane payments. “And to hear I would have to start all over, it's devastating,” said Clark. She had already paid off seven years of her mortgage.

     

    Did you ever think three months of missed payments would turn into seven years of more payments?” asked Ulrich.

     

    “Absolutely not,” said Clark.

     

    Two Wells Fargo customers had previously contacted us with the same complaint. Online, Action 9 found a dozen more, including Hurricane Harvey victims in Houston claiming the bank was forcing loan modifications and even foreclosure threats.

             

    Real estate attorney Karen Wonsetler told Ulrich that FHA loans allow other options. “It's not fair, and I would expect the bank to go back and look at regulations,” said Wonsetler.

     

    After Action 9 contacted Wells Fargo, a company representative said the bank gave Clark the wrong information, and she could choose a payment option without starting a new 30-year loan. The representative also said Wells Fargo was going to improve its training program.

             

    It is a far better option, but still not what Clark expected. “I want what you guys promised me,” she said.

     

    Wells Fargo officials also told Ulrich that based on what kind of loan was signed, not everyone qualified for a program to add payments to the end of their mortgage.

     

    Wells Fargo written response:

    “We have reviewed our records and can confirm that Ms. Clark was given inaccurate information regarding the FHA payment assistance options available to her.  We apologize for the miscommunication and have reached out to her to discuss how we can resolve this and provide her with the extended payment assistance that she needs.  We also recognize this situation as an opportunity to improve our training with team members who discuss disaster assistance options with our customers.

     

    As a reminder, payment deferrals are not available across all investors. To be clear, payment deferrals are an option whereby the missed principal and interest payments are added to the end of the current loan term.  Lenders are only able to offer this as a disaster assistance option if it is allowed under the investor’s guidelines.”

     

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