If there’s any upside to foreclosure it’s the relief that comes with no longer being in debt. But one Texas company seems to be testing even that assurance for foreclosure victims.
Ahmed Abdelfattah may finally be free from his mortgage nightmare after a judge dismissed a lawsuit in March against him from Heritage Pacific Financial, a company he’d never heard of until after he lost his home to foreclosure, ABC News reports.
Heritage Pacific Financial of Plano, Texas contacted Abdelfattah seeking payment on a second loan worth $135,000, a loan he took out to cover the down payment on the house he purchased years ago. By law, homeowners can not be pursued for two debts on the same property after its been foreclosed on, but Heritage Pacific Financial claims that when borrower fraud is involved they can pursue debt on second mortgages.
Heritage purchased around 40,000 second mortgage debts in California and have gotten many previous homeowners who don’t know any better to pay up, according to The Press-Enterprise. But often, as in Abdelfattah’s case, there isn’t actually any fraud to be found on the part of the borrower.
"Some of the loans that Heritage has do have fraud in them, but I believe many of the loans the fraud was not the borrower's fraud but was instead the broker's fraud,” Eric Schwinn, an attorney currently involved in a lawsuit with Heritage Pacific Financial, told ABC 7. “And Heritage is in a sense re-victimizing the same victims of the mortgage crisis.”
The company now faces a class-action suit that claims the company is running an “insidious and illegal debt collection scheme,” The Press-Enterprise reports.
Indeed, Abdelfattah’s account that one caller from Heritage was “really aggressive, cursing on the phone” fits in with a rising trend of debt collector abuse. The Federal Trade commision is currently cracking down on the industry that accounted for a record number of complaints last year, with individual debt collection abuse ranging from the illegal impersonation of police officers to threats and lies.
It was reported in 2011 that borrowers with second mortgages are twice as likely to have an underwater loan. Indeed, Sovereign Bank is facing a lawsuit that alleges it charged borrowers exorbitant rates on second mortgages, Courthouse News reports. Bank of America, meanwhile, has actually been known to sue itself over second mortgages it owns in order to foreclose on the first mortgage.
Check out some more debt collection horror stories below:
'Do You Want To Pay Now?'
Bruce Folken was still "out of it" when a hospital employee entered his room and asked if he wanted "to pay now." Afraid the care he was being given would suffer if he said no, Folken agreed as the employee took his debit card from his wallet and charged him $493.60, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/18/hospital-debt-collection-health-care_n_1528124.html?ref=business#s609557&title=8_Affording_Minimum" target="_hplink">The Huffington Post</a> reports.
Cancer Survivor Sent To Debtors' Prison
Breast cancer survivor<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/23/lisa-lindsay-breast-cancer-survivor-debtors-jail_n_1446391.html" target="_hplink"> Lisa Lindsay of Illinois was taken from her home in handcuffs and put in debtors' prison</a> over a $280 medical bill that was sent to her by accident. Eventually, she agreed to pay $600 just to settle the charges.
Unspeakable Debtor Threat
According to the FTC, employees at one debt collection agency <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/13/debt-collectors-abusive-economy_n_1422107.html" target="_hplink">threatened a debtor</a> by saying they would "dig her daughter up and hang her from a tree if she did not pay the debt," <a href="http://bucks.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/26/f-t-c-claims-abusive-tactics-by-two-debt-collection-firms/" target="_hplink"><em>The New York Times</em></a> reports.
Impersonating Police Officers
The West Virginia attorney general filed suits in April against seven debt collectors for <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/19/west-virginia-attorney-general-debt-collectors_n_1435549.html" target="_hplink">allegedly impersonating police officers</a> in order to harass borrowers who in some cases didn't even owe any money.
Debt Collectors Report Fake Suicide Threat
Eighty-five year-old Anne Sessions spent hours in the hospital incurring a $1,055 medical bill when debt collectors called authorities to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/10/anne-sessions-oregon-octogenarian-suing-debt-collector-fake-suicide_n_1269267.html" target="_hplink">falsely report that she was threatening suicide</a>. The debt collector reportedly asked her "how would you do it?"
Woman Jailed Over Car Accident Fees
Colorado resident <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/20/debtors-prison-jail-for-a_n_880321.html" target="_hplink">Kelly Wiedemer spent four nights in debtors prison</a> in June 2011 when a police officer pulled her over for having unregistered plates and discovered she still owed money from an accident that happened in 2009. "I thought debtors' prison was supposed to be unconstitutional," Wiedemer said.
Debt Collectors Set Up Facebook Profiles
Debt collectors will "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/24/debt-collectors-facebook_n_1448792.html" target="_hplink">set up fake profiles and friend consumers on Facebook</a>, just to get into their personal information," according to one financial planner.
Rincon Charged With Threatening Non-Debtors
The FTC charged Rincon and six other debt collection agencies for using threats and insults to try and collect money from <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/27/ftc-debt-collectors-federal-trade-commission_n_1033839.html" target="_hplink">people who didn't actually owe any</a>.
Phony Police Threats Terrify Couple
When an official-sounding debt collector told Wayne and Brenda Foster they'd be dealing with police unless they paid up, the couple reached for their wallets. So did hundreds of others. But thanks to an FTC investigation of fake debt collectors, the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/11/ftc-busts-scam-debt-collector_n_1418582.html" target="_hplink">multimillion dollar scheme to rip off consumers was shut down in April</a>.
'Nice People Collect More'
Turns out nice guys don't always finish last. Debt collector Access Receivables increased payments by 40 percent after adopting a new <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/01/access-receivables-nice-strategy_n_1467902.html" target="_hplink">"nice people" strategy emphasizing customer service</a>.