- Man arrested in car bomb plot at Kansas airport
- Prison inmates take up ‘Knockout’ game, target female officers
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- John Kerry: Israel-Palestinian peace deal paved for April
- India diplomat who touts women’s rights busted for $3 wage to nanny
- MSNBC host Ed Schultz paid $252K by unions in 2012-2013
- Korean War memorial ordered to take down Christian cross
- Billy Graham near death, ‘close to going home to be with the Lord’
- SeaTac, Wash.: City’s new $15 minimum wage heads to court
- Obama mulls support for Islamists in Syria, with conditions
Mortgage Q&A: True story too unreal to believe
I want to share a true story so outrageous you may find it unbelievable.
My very good friend and neighbor, “Joe,” is a recently retired U.S. Marine colonel who purchased a home and moved to Charleston, S.C., with his wife a year ago. When rates bottomed out last fall, I refinanced his mortgage through SunTrust Bank.
He chose to pay his taxes and homeowners insurance separately, waiving the escrow requirement. At settlement, SunTrust properly required evidence that his insurance and real estate taxes were paid.
A month later, Joe received a letter from SunTrust stating that his flood insurance was inadequate. While Joe’s insurance company asserted that his property is in a “C” zone, SunTrust insisted that it’s in the more expensive “AE” zone.
To settle the matter, Joe’s insurance company provided SunTrust with the declaration and flood map that indicates the property is in a “C” zone. SunTrust then told Joe to stand by because the insurance matter was “in research.”
Meanwhile, Joe started to receive letters from SunTrust’s insurance department telling him that if he didn’t upgrade his flood insurance, the bank would impose its own, very expensive, insurance policy. Joe got on the horn once again with the insurance department and was told not to worry because the issue was still “in research.”
Joe made his payments as agreed for the next three months. In February, he received a letter from SunTrust’s collection department stating that his monthly payments were insufficient. (Remember, Joe waived the escrow and paid his insurance and tax bills upfront. Therefore, he makes only the required monthly principal and interest payment.) He called the collection department, which offered no help and refused to make an inquiry to the insurance department.
“They referred me to a special customer-service representative (Monique) who promised to give my problem personal attention. She hasn’t returned my calls nor did she call me at the time she said she would. The people in this company don’t even know the telephone numbers to other departments within their own business! Every conversation with an employee leads to blaming another department that they can’t help you contact, and they’ve told me that no one can answer questions that cross departmental turf. Their only responses to me have been form letters, which get more and more threatening.”
On May 2, after more than seven months, Joe received the most outrageous letter to date. It begins, “Please call us. Together we may be able to save your home.” The letter continues with statements like, “We’ll discuss ways for you to get back on track,” “you will be treated with respect,” and “will do everything possible to help you keep your home.”
Joe and his wife have perfect credit, good income and assets, and have made every mortgage payment on time - yet he received a letter threatening foreclosure.
I contacted Mr. Suhr and told him I would be writing this column and told him my deadline. I asked if he would like to comment. Specifically, I asked him if it is SunTrust’s policy to send a letter threatening foreclosure over an insurance dispute and whether he could comment on the fact that the same day Joe received the letter, SunTrust’s insurance department again told Joe the insurance issue was still “in research.”
Mr. Suhr replied with an email: “I’ve got people digging into this - I’ll get back to you tomorrow with what I can share.”
As I was finishing this column, Mr. Suhr called my cellphone. He said the letter was sent in error and it is not SunTrust’s policy to send such letters to its clients over an insurance dispute. This is curious because the collections department told Joe that the letter is sent automatically if SunTrust thinks the payment is insufficient. Mr. Suhr said the case wasn’t handled the way it should have been and SunTrust is working to resolve it.
Meanwhile, Joe hasn’t received any calls, and I have encouraged him to contact the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Commerce and the South Carolina Bureau of Financial Institutions.
By Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Memories of a long brotherhood tempered in common struggle
- U.S. Army hails success with drone-shooting laser
- U.S. Navy-China showdown: Chinese try to halt U.S. cruiser in international waters
- Suspected Colo. school gunman kills self amid standoff
- Billy Graham near death, close to going home to be with the Lord
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Obama birther theories float as Hawaii health director killed in crash
- Obama and family holiday in Hawaii again
- PRUDEN: The last living witnesses; they wore the yellow star and remember the Nazi terror
- Obama's Afghanistan experts stumped on U.S. death toll, war costs during hearing
- James Bond: The spy who is really an alcoholic
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Musings of a bilingual, agnostic, combat veteran and jewelry maker.
Topics will include politics, religion, race, culture, and anything else that needs to be discussed...
Our Choice: Individual responsibility and self-government or the abandonment of the American Revolution
Extraordinary day at Redskins Park
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow