05/08/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Healing All Homeowners

Iris Martin is the author of Mortgage Wars.

The meltdown begins. Your heart pounds, your palms sweat and your ears ring. Your breath is labored as your central nervous system triggers a flight or fright response. Thrust into survival mode, your being explodes with rage. In disbelief, you re-read your mortgage statement. As you stumble from your mailbox to the kitchen, you consider reaching for something more potent than coffee. With trembling hands, you read the statement again. It can't be right! How could your mortgage payment have doubled?

You grab the portable and call your mortgage broker, who is conveniently out of business. You learn that your lender has been shut down for fraud by the Office of Thrift Supervision. You call the customer service number on your monthly servicing statement. A man from a call center in Costa Rica answers in broken English. You can barely understand a word he says. After several frustrating rounds of non-communication, you demand to speak with a manager. You are told managers do not accept calls. Spent from anxiety, you collapse into a chair. You glance around your kitchen noticing every knickknack, child's drawing and decorative touch. So much has happened in this kitchen, the heartbeat of your home. Then the terror sets in and you gulp back tears. You are in terrible trouble. You are in danger of losing your home.

Welcome, battered borrower, to the epidemic known as "payment shock syndrome." It begins with an anxiety attack. Its symptoms include helplessness, rage, denial, panic and depression. If not treated, payment shock syndrome can lead to other disorders including drug and alcohol addiction, hypertension, cancer, obesity and heart disease. In its most severe manifestations, it can result in a complete nervous breakdown or suicide.

Your first onslaught of payment shock syndrome begins when your toxic loan adjusts, causing your monthly payment to skyrocket. Your first reaction is shock, disbelief and confusion. The more you learn about how you have been defrauded, the deeper your illness manifests. But you must not succumb to hysteria or emotional immobilization. You must force yourself to get a grip on your galloping emotions.

Payment shock syndrome is contagious. It has spread through families and entire neighborhoods. Signs of the epidemic include front doors desecrated with foreclosure notices, abandoned houses, auctioneer's tents and displaced families moving into their cars. Payment shock syndrome fractures families and dissolves marriages. It infiltrates playgrounds and homerooms as bewildered children and teens retreat in embarrassment. Whole communities can be infected if left untreated.

While payment shock syndrome is a silent killer, you can be cured of it. You can be healed and made whole. So there is light at the end of the tunnel.

First, you must stop blaming yourself for contracting it. You are not alone. It has crippled millions of families and neighborhoods across America. You also must not give in to its sweet lull of denial. When confronted with payment shock, most homeowners give up their homes and turn in their keys, or seek the empty sanctity of bankruptcy. So beware, payment shock will worsen if left untreated. It is time to mobilize and seek treatment in the form of deliberate and strategic action.

You must find the warrior within and mobilize to fight your mortgage war. Out of work, devoid of life savings and being thrown out of your home, you may ask yourself, "Is this America?" But there is no time for existential introspection. You must tap into your rage and transform it into energy. The kind of energy it takes to defeat your enemy and claim victory over your lender by getting free and clear title to your home.

This process begins with some soul searching. Are you afraid of authority figures? Do you have an intrinsic sense of helplessness in taking on Big Brother? If you are the son or daughter or spouse of an
alcoholic, abuse-aholic or rage-aholic, you will tempted to dump this problem onto someone else or just give up. It's time for a transformation here! It's time for a transformation here! It's time to overcome your inner demons that are blocking your inner warrior!

If you are a woman who has relied on male authority figures to clean up your messes, heed this call to take control. This is your home we are talking about. And if you are an immigrant and English is not your first language, do not retreat! Victory can be found in many languages.

To transform your terror and rage into focused energy, you will need to find a quiet place and sit down. Close your eyes. Notice your breathing. Concentrate on breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. Focus on this simple act of controlling your breathing as preparation for controlling your life. Do this until your anxiety is gone.

Next, focus on your home. Picture each room in great detail. Let the tears fall as the terror of losing your home rises up in your chest. Now picture next Thanksgiving in your home. And the winter holidays. And birthday parties. And lazing around on Sunday morning. Say silently to yourself, "I will not allow anyone to take away my home. I will do what it takes to save my home. I am open to finding the way to save my home." Say this a few times silently, then say it out loud five times.

This will bring universal energy to assist you. Simply thank your personal God for intervening on your behalf. Then let it go. Open your eyes. Re-orient yourself to your surroundings. Take a moment to feel your strong intention to stay in your home. Say out loud, "I have been defrauded and I will fight back. The law is on my side. I will follow a plan and win this war. I have no intention of leaving my house.."

Do this meditation twice a day, once when you awake, and once before you go to bed. If you are married or have a partner, you can do it together. This exercise will help transform your bottled up feelings of helplessness, terror and rage into the calm nature of the warrior. Now it is time to fight your war.

My new book, Mortgage Wars, will guide you, step by step, through a war plan of engagement that has been followed by many homeowners who have won their mortgage wars. You will meet them and their attorneys throughout the book. You will learn about how you were defrauded and why; why the government cannot help you; and why and how you can win your war. The law is squarely on your side. Even if you have received a sales date; even if your foreclosure has occurred and you are awaiting eviction, there is plenty you can do to stay in your home and keep it from the predators!

Now, if you do nothing, you will lose your home. You do not have the option of doing nothing. You must study your loan and your lender, or have a mortgage auditor do so for you. You can get referrals to qualified auditors at Once your loan is audited, you will learn what fraudulent acts were committed by your broker and lender. Fraud is the intentional inducement into a contract without all the material facts. There are laws against fraud and the penalties are severe. You will have a clear picture of how you were defrauded and how your lender established a pattern of conduct in which it abandoned it's fiduciary right to advise you. You may have been defrauded at any stage of the process: during the solicitation, origination, processing, closing and servicing of your loan. Fraud must be argued with specificity in the courtroom, and the audit is your weapon.

You will also learn if your loan was securitized, i.e. sold on the secondary market. If it was, your lender has no legal right to foreclose, as it is not a current holder of your note. This is extremely good news, and the legal approach involves filing a "quiet title action" as well as a claim for fraud and other violations. This will get your lender off your title and get you your house free and clear, if your lender cannot produce the current holders of your note. Most likely, it cannot do so at the level that will satisfy a judge in a court of law. And judges are not lenient in this matter. They are livid at the way homeowners have been defrauded. They understand completely, that this is not some chair you bought at a garage sale, this is your home! The roof over your head! The shelter that provides you with safety and security and protects your family!

You will also learn about violations of the federal Truth in Lending Act; whether you were giving the proper disclosures during the origination process. You will learn about your right of rescission and your ability to cancel your loan and get your money back (does not apply to purchases). You will learn about the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and your right to demand information from your lender without it affecting your credit score during non-payment. You will also learn about unjust enrichment, usury, RICO, HOEPA, and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. You will come to love the law, particularly those laws that have been designed to protect homeowners making the single largest financial decision of their lives.

You are not alone. In fact, you are pretty great company, because there are ten million Americans in the same boat as you and there is safety in numbers. You can come to one of my free seminars across America this summer and I will walk you through the process along with qualified auditors and attorneys. Together, we will demand a transformation of the financial services industry and the government agencies that regulate it.

As a global expert in transforming huge Fortune 500 corporations, I promise you that this is all possible. There is a method and process inherent in transformation and we will engage in it together.

But first you must forgive yourself. You must forgive your spouse or your mother or father who took out this toxic loan. It was not your fault, nor could you have seen it coming. By definition, being de-frauded is being targeted. In this case, you have been targeted by a global conspiracy of politicians, regulators, brokerage houses, investment banks, mortgage brokers and lenders, who conspired to defraud you in the name of profit. This conspiracy did so knowingly and with full knowledge that their plan would bring down the global economy. But they didn't care. All they cared about was fees and profit.

We will make them care. You will stay in your home. There is light at the end of the tunnel and you will prevail. Judges all over the country are on your side. It's time to fight the good fight and win.