Would you rely on an accused thief to investigate their own crime? What about a person who had reportedly committed fraud or perjury? Would you allow any of these individuals to determine the amount of the restitution to their victims?
Miami foreclosure defense lawyers understand this is essentially what is happening with major financial institutions, which are reportedly being allowed to self-identify the victims of their own mortgage and foreclosure abuses.
That was the subject of a recent ProPublica article examining the “Independent Foreclosure Review,” which is held up as a non-partisan, non-biased commission to investigate foreclosure abuses and provide compensation to those affected. However, recent in-depth media reports indicate that at least one of these banks – Bank of America – is conducting a large amount of the investigative legwork of its own company. New information has also been revealed that showed the four largest banks in the country are planning to play a key role in determining whether certain homeowners were harmed. These banks would also be responsible for determining how much affected homeowners and former homeowners would be paid.
Initially, the independent review was supposed to work like this: Every bank or mortgage servicer was supposed to foot the bill for an independent consultant to investigate the bank’s foreclosure cases, figure out who exactly was harmed and figure out what sort of compensation each individual deserved, with the maximum amount capped at $125,000.
But the program has been shrouded by a thick blanket of secrecy. It was only after intense pressure from Congress and certain regulatory agencies that banks released the contracts they had signed with these consultants. As it turns out, these individuals aren’t quite so independent after all.
Part of the problem is in the way the whole system is set up. It’s only fair that the banks should have to foot the bill to correct the foreclosure wrongs they have committed. However, when you have the banks directly hiring and overseeing this person, it creates more than the appearance of bias.
The released contracts reveal that, in practice, the banks have much more control over the outcome. The homeowner submits a claim detailing the alleged abuses. Then it’s the bank that conducts a review to determine victimization. Those findings are then passed on to the “independent consultant,” who then makes a final determination on compensation. The process is clearly skewed in favor of the banks.
Homeowners, meanwhile, are left out of the loop throughout the entire process.
When pressed about this by the media, several of the banks refused to answer any direct questions on the matter.
What all of this shows is the machine you are up against in these cases. You absolutely can’t afford to go up against these large companies on your own. Hiring a firm with experience can make all the difference in your foreclosure defense case.
If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.
Doubts About Independent Foreclosure Review Spread, Oct. 19, 2012, By Paul Kiel, ProPublica
More Blog Entries:
Feds Crack Down on Mortgage Scams in Miami, Nationwide, Oct. 10, 2012, Oct. 10, 2012, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog