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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

One Woman's Story

I've been watching with great interest the Occupy Wall Street protests around the country, the latest news as of this writing the pepper spray incident at UC Davis. I find myself asking what it is they want. Then I answered my own question this morning when I came across some paperwork from a recent experience I had with a Long Island bank. How quickly we forget.

To make a very long story short, in early 2010 I wanted to set up a loan modification for my home on Long Island, which at that time was on the market but not selling. I was one month behind on the mortgage after 12 years of on-time monthly payments. I approached my mortgage holder, Chase Bank, and chatted with a representative (in person), who told me I needed to stop paying my mortgage for the bank to even consider a modification. When I asked about the bank taking action if I didn't make monthly payments he further said Chase wouldn't do anything for 6-8 months. Surprising news (not to mention surprising advice from a bank rep), but hey! I thought. The guy must know what he's talking about, right? Shortly after speaking to the rep I got a serious bite on the house with talk of closing in a few months.  Since I had a bit of a grace period from the bank (I thought) and, since I would still need a modification if the sale fell through, I took the rep's advice and didn't make another mortgage payment.

Twenty-one days later Chase Bank foreclosed on me. I was unaware they had because I was upstate at the time, in process of relocating here permanently. My mail was being forwarded, but Chase didn't mail the foreclosure notice. Somebody from the bank put the notice in my Long Island mailbox.

I found out about the foreclosure six weeks later when my realtor called to inform me Chase had posted a notice on my front door that the house had been deemed "abandoned" and that they were going to take possession, change the locks, and board up the windows. Now let me explain something here: my home was in a lovely neighborhood and was a well-kept ranch house with a professionally manicured lawn. There was absolutely nothing to suggest the house had been "abandoned." Not surprisingly, I was furious, called the bank, was shuffled around through various departments and automated systems, and was cut off FOUR TIMES before finally getting on the line with a person who told me in a monotone foreign accent that if I didn't make the mortgage payments (now three months past due) plus $8,000 in attorney fees by 5 p.m. the next day the foreclosure would go through and I would lose my home. I then called the bank rep I spoke with initially and, to his credit, he was horrified, told me he'd never heard of anything like this before, apologized profusely, but ultimately said there was nothing he could do. There are not words...nor expletives...to describe my outrage. I paid the money and called my attorney, who for six months after tried -- and failed -- to communicate with the bank's attorney, the bank attorney I might add whose initial response to hearing about legal fees of $8,000, was "For what??" Then he went underground and never responded to my lawyer again. The bank, and its legal goons, waited me out. And won.

I've been in the work force since the month after I graduated from college. I've made my money and paid my taxes, purchased homes, contributed to the economy, never so much as collected one dime in unemployment in 30 years, and, as I said, was a solid citizen who paid her bills and did what she was supposed to do. This, after three decades, was my reward. Eight grand paid into the overflowing pockets of Chase Bank. I'm confident the Chase attorneys didn't get the money, the bank did, gallingly as the result of my taking advice from one of its own, albeit apologetic, representatives.

As I reread the paperwork this morning, I heard myself muttering "Yeah, I get it now, the occupy movement." Bless those people who are saying with their protests and sit-ins and signs what I wanted to say when the untouchable dinosaurs at Chase Bank squashed me down; who, figuratively, doused me with pepper spray. I'm not in a position to protest, and if truth be known I'm not sure I would if I could. I'm glad someone else has more guts than I do, glad there are brave people out there who are speaking for me. What they're saying on my, and on everyone else's behalf -- those of us who have been trampled and mauled and cast away as insignificant -- is ENOUGH.

To the occupy protesters from one insignificant writer, thank you. More people are behind you than you know.


yeah said...

They put a notice in your mailbox? I think only the Post Office can do that w/o committing a crime. I'm sure the Feds would ignore your complaint as soon as Chase cut them in on the take. Obama doesn't seem to have much to say about OWS.

Kathleen Yasas said...

Yes, Yeah. You're right. About everything. Maybe we should get a bus and head to Wall Street.

Paul said...

This saddens me that the corporations have gotten so big that the left hand no longer know what the right is doing. While I do agree with the premise of the occupy wall street movement, unfortunately protesting and sit ins is not going to work. The only way for results to happen is for people to boycott the businesses that are corrupt. Sitting/standing outside a business holding hands, chanting, singing etc...will not stop those employees from going to their jobs and doing the same bad business they do everyday, and taking advantage of the American people. People should be proactive after these terrible examples and boycott those banks and big corporations. Put them out of business by not buying their products and withdrawing their money from the accounts. Then, and only then will the consumer win-when they take the reigns and take back their own rights.

Paul said...

People will find out after it's too late that big government and big business does not work....I think people are starting to come around, though.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: ...And I Breathed (author, Jason Garner, former CEO of Global Music at Live Nation), "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum