Lousy Loan Offers Still Coming by Mail
If anyone thinks mortgage brokers have been chastened by the financial calamity we've all been through the past few years, think harder. My husband and I received a particularly shoddy refinancing offer just a few weeks ago.
It was packed full of misleading statements, starting with the address window. It read "Pay to the order of:" Well who doesn't want to open an envelope with a check inside? And below our address, it said "RE: Mortgage Payment Refund."
Inside was nothing short of garbage -- on a paper with water marks of the Statue of Liberty and Bald Eagle, much like a government check, no less.
The lender -- which I won't name so as not to give it any publicity -- said it's a member of the National Association of Mortgage Brokers, and used the NAMB logo.
They had looked up our current mortgage and correctly named the institution and interest rate. They offered to save us as much as $450 a month with a refinance. "The federal government under President Obama has made it easier for you to refinance your current mortgage into a new rate as low as 4.00%*" it said.
Hmm. I have not seen 4 percent interest rates -- anywhere. And no matter how I ran the numbers, I could not come up with $450 a month in savings for our loan. The fine print was too small and faint to be read.
Another misleading statement: "This loan is Guaranteed by the Federal Government." While that might technically be true, it's misleading. FHA guarantees protect the lender, not the borrower.
The come-on was signed by a "Licensed FHA Loan Specialist" named Brian. So I phoned the 888 number printed in the letter and asked to speak to him, using his first and last names. The gentleman who answered said "There's not really a Brian..." But he was a licensed specialist, too, and would be happy to help me. When I identified myself as a Washington Post reporter who had received their letter at home, he promptly referred me to a spokesperson who-- surprise!--was not available. A quick look-up of the lender's phone number led me to its "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau.
Such junk in my mailbox does me no harm. If anything, it's good for a laugh. But, really, there are people out there who can be seduced. If this housing bust hasn't been enough to drive such hucksters out of business, what will?
September 22, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories: Foreclosure , Loan modifications , Mortgages
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