My name is Brenna Carswell, and my mortgage was sold to Seterus (formerly LBPS, formerly IBM, formerly Wilshire Credit Corp.) at the height of the housing and economic collapse. About a year later, on December 27, 2010, my ex-husband moved out of our home, immediately leaving me responsible for our 22 month old daughter, our dog, our mortgage, our bills and the rest of our responsibilities. I went through my savings and had help from family for a few months, but by April, I realized I would soon be falling behind on mortgage payments. I immediately contacted Seterus, Inc. I was told that in order to qualify for loan remodification I would need to be behind in mortgage payments. Though others I talked to were skeptical of this, I took it as truth since it came from the mortgage servicer directly.
I collected the documents required to apply for the loan remod, submitted my info the first week in April 2011. As advised in order to qualify, I did not make a May mortgage payment. In June, I was sent a letter stating I qualified for the government HAMP program. My trial payments would be $1,146 plus $87.50 for my mortgage insurance (PMI) due the first of July, August and September. The payments were 48% of my net income, and even though I still had utilities, a car payment, marital debt, insurance, and child care to pay for, I just barely made the first payment. When my divorce took an ugly turn, I relented responsibility of the property over to him, and moved out of the house into a small apartment so he could pursue a short sale. I contacted the mortgage company to say that the house was vacant, but NOT abandoned. That we, as the homeowners, were still actively in and out of the property and maintaining it.
Hurricane Irene hit weeks later, dumping 3 inches of water into the finished basement. Mold began growing. By the time the property was listed for short sale with an agent in December 2011, the mold on the drywall was 3 feet high and very evident. Once the house was on the market, Seterus hired a company by the name of SafeGuard Properties to “secure” my home. It was explained that they would be winterizing my house and securing the entrances not lock boxed by the realtor. I was told I would be contacted any time this company needed to come into my home and that they would sign in on a sign in sheet. I was later told by a plumber that not only was the “winterization” not done properly, but that my water heater and furnace were broken in the process, requiring over $400 in repairs.
At the end of January, I received a letter from Seterus that they intended to proceed with foreclosure if I didn’t respond to their letter with twenty-something thousand dollars in back mortgage payments. But that made no sense to me since I’d missed only 6 payments of $1,734. That only comes to $10,404 in missed payments. When I spoke with Seterus, they said that since the house was up for short sale, the foreclosure process would slow so that we could find a buyer. A few days later, another rep from Seterus told me the foreclosure process would NOT slow and that there was no guarantee that any offer we did get would be approved.
On February 4th, the realtor got a call from an upset agent that claimed we were suddenly trying to “cover up” the mold in the basement by painting over it. Having no idea what she was talking about, I went straight over to the house and found paint handprints and footprints all over the floors, walls, Rubbermaid tubs of belongings, and my antique armoire. Not only had these people used my paint and supplies to do a messy and illegal cover-up job, they also used my boxed up clothing as clean up rags and left them sitting around wet and adhering to surfaces. I recently found out that neighbors had called the police when they saw flashlights flickering in the basement at 12:30am. The police responded and had a “painter” face down on my driveway. He was taken into custody then ordered not to return to my property. The realtor was hesitant to remain on the listing once Seterus and SafeGuard had illegally tried to cover up an obvious problem in the house, thus sabotaging two potential sales.
Immediately, I called Seterus and explained the situation and told them how violating and illegal this was! I ordered the mortgage company to fire SafeGuard and not allow anyone else in my home. Foreclosure proceedings hadn’t even started at that point, so my home was still rightfully mine to set such requirements. Seterus did not respond to my complaints, and they made no attempt to fire SafeGuard or provide me with restitution. Neighbors have said that mid-late February, a moving truck pulled up to my home around 10pm and began removing “bagfuls” of my belongings from the house. When the neighbors questioned the men, they held up a paper and said the “bank sent us to clean out.” Stolen items included an Apple laptop, an electronic palm pilot with tons of personal contact info in it, holiday decorations, pictures and paintings, and small kitchen appliances. Once again, I called Seterus, and their response was “What would you like us to do about it?” I told Seterus that the house was being taken off the market, and I was moving back in immediately.
Knowing I would be moving back in, I immediately began the process for getting a new loan remodification. My ex had recently begun paying child support, so I would be able to afford the modification I was previously offered. When I began moving back into the house the second week in March, I noticed even more of my property was missing. This time an over-the-range microhood, a dehumidifier, a brand new lawnmower, an outdoor firepit, the hoses to my washing machine, tools, wood decking tiles, kitchen equipment, and more that I’m continuing to discover missing. Furious, I contacted Seterus again to verify that the contract they had with SafeGuard had been terminated. I reiterated that the home was no longer vacant and no longer for sale. I began submitting loan remod paperwork on Feb. 22nd and the last of it was faxed on March 15th. During this time, I received the first "Intent to Foreclose" letter. It stated that the only way to avoid foreclosure were by short sale, loan modification, or deed-in-lieu. I started praying that they would process my paperwork quickly.
I had contact with Seterus at least twice a week, whether they called me or I called them. I was told at the beginning of April, that I had been approved for 4 different loan remod programs, and I would be getting paperwork mailed to me soon. Finally, on May 30th, I received a loan remod trial plan to start July 1 for $1,333 plus $87.50 for PMI. This was $200 higher than the remod I’d defaulted on the year before, and my income hadn’t changed except for the $350/mo I was getting in child support. I immediately called Seterus and notified them that this payment was still too high. It would only leave me with $700 each month to cover utilities, car payment, insurance, child care, groceries and incidentals that averaged over $1,000. Plus I was having to replace the items that were stolen from me by the company THEY hired!
If I was offered the loan remod rate I was given last year, I can afford that. I had to resubmit all my paperwork on June 8th. I’ve talked with someone from Seterus every 4-6 days to get updates. I’ve been told parts of my paperwork were lost (even though I sent it all in together as a PDF file), that I don’t qualify for a re-review because they only look at my income not at my other debts and expenses (even though their paperwork asks for all of that information and states that they DO take it into consideration), and each time I’m assured that my file has been sent to the loan officer for review. Every phone call, I get a different story. The stories change so much, I don’t know what to believe. In the meantime, I've found out that Seterus makes a 6% commission on my home when it is foreclosed on. Bottom line: there's NO incentive for them to work with me. In 4 months, my 3 year old daughter and I will be homeless.
I want Seterus to compensate me for the property stolen and damaged by the company they hired and retained even after they robbed and vandalized me. I want to keep my house- I just want an affordable payment.
This is happening to people like me all over the country! Seterus has over 17,000 registered complaints with the Better Business Bureau. A simple Google search brings up the thousands of people harmed and bullied by this company. I hope that with your signature, this company will be forced to end their illegal, abusive servicing practices and be held accountable for the devastation they've created in the lives of hard working, vulnerable Americans.