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Bay Area Woman overbilled for sold vehicle

July 23, 2010 7:30:50 PM PDT
Lots of folks in this economy are trying to get rid of debt. One woman sold her truck to pay off her auto loan -- only to find she still owed the money.

Selling a car on your own is always a little nerve racking, Nancy Middlestead did everything right. She insisted on being paid with a cashier's check. The check was good and still she wound up with no money -- and no truck.

Nancy and her son loved their Dodge truck, but monthly payments were a little too high. So they sold it, paid off the bank loan and were happily rid of the expense -- or so they thought.

When Nancy sold the truck, the buyer paid with a cashier's check. Nancy used it to pay off her auto loan. Everything was fine until three weeks later, when Wells Fargo called.

"Please send the title back, they don't have the check or the check they have is non-negotiable," she said.

Wells Fargo said it had received a copy of the cashier's check, but not the original. The bank cannot cash a copy and it said Nancy still owed $8,100 on her loan for a truck that was already gone.

"I don't have the truck, I don't have the title, I have to pay on this vehicle I no longer own," she said. "It was so frustrating."

The bank started billing Nancy for loan payments, plus late fees. Nancy explained she'd sent the original check plus a copy, but Wells Fargo said it did not have the original.

"Nobody would admit that they lost it or shredded it or, just how can we be sure you put it in the envelope?" she said.

The man who bought the truck agreed to issue another check, as long as nobody could cash the first one. However no one could guarantee that since it was a lost cashier's check, so Wells Fargo kept demanding payments.

"They were going to put a lien on the title and press legal charges," Nancy said. "It was very frustrating to the point where I couldn't look at a Dodge truck on the street."

Nancy said communications with the bank were going nowhere until she called 7 On Your Side.

"I told them, 'you know what I've contacted 7 On Your Side. Boy did they change in a hurry," she said.

After that, Wells Fargo agreed not to cash that first check if it's ever found. The truck's new owner then wrote a new check and Nancy's loan was paid in full.

Wells Fargo said: "In situations such as this, what often gets sent for deposit is a "Non-Negotiable Item. We appreciate 7 on Your Side calling this to our attention and are happy this matter has been resolved."

"Thank goodness for 7 on Your Side," Nancy said. "Now I can look at a Dodge truck and I'm fine."

It's still not clear whatever happened to that original check. Nancy says Wells Fargo told her it may have been shredded by mistake and the copy was put through for deposit.

Mailing a cashier's check is a lot like mailing cash, so it might be better to send a personal check just to be safe.


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