Bank of America may want to re-check its books before it starts throwing elderly people out on the streets.
ABC News reports that the bank made a mistake earlier this year, by initiating the foreclosure process on an elderly couple that had the audacity to submit a mortgage payment a week early.
Late last year, the Florida couple, Sharon Bullington, 70, and her 78-year-old terminally ill husband, were forced, due to mounting health care bills, to apply for mortgage relief under the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). After receiving approval for the application, Sharon sent in her first check (for January’s rent) for the adjusted amount on December 23, 2010.
This, apparently, set off Bank of America’s powers-that-be.
Official HAMP guidelines dictate that the Bullingtons should have technically made their first adjusted payment on January 1, 2011, and, “by not making January’s payment on January 1st, the Bullingtons had failed to comply with HAMP’s terms.”
The next month, February’s rent check was returned and the Bullingtons learned they were kicked out of the HAMP program. It was then that Bank of America turned nasty. Customer “Advocate” Ana Olivera (in the office of the bank’s CEO and president) sent the Bullingtons a letter informing them that they no longer qualified for HAMP “‘because the first Making Home Affordable Trial payment was due on January 1, 2011, and the payment was made on December 23, 2011 (sic).” Olivera continued, “‘If you are not able to make each payment in the month in which [it] is due, you will not be eligible for a modification.'”
As it stands, Bank of America has moved to foreclose on the Bullington home, though officials at the bank did send an email to ABC News reading, in part ,”We apologise to the Bullingtons…and we hope to have a response to them shortly.”
This is little consolation for the Bullingtons, however, who have lived with the threat of foreclosure for most of 2011.
Margaret Bogenrief is a Partner with ACM Partners, a boutique crisis management and distressed investing firm serving companies and municipalities in financial distress. She can be reached at [email protected]