Woman struggles to fix credit report after mortgage mix up

August 23, 2012 7:23:49 PM PDT
If you use an auto pay system, you may feel confident all your bills are paid on time. However, one Bay Area woman didn't realize her payments were going to the wrong place and it ended up ruining her credit for three years.

There is so much shifting in the marketplace, with companies buying each other out, you may not know who you're really doing business with. That was exactly the case for our consumer who didn't realize the wheeling and dealing involved her most important asset -- her house.

"It's frustrating that big banks have this power to ignore you," said Susan Bryan of San Francisco.

Bryan is talking about her three-year struggle to fix a mistake that wrecked her credit over a payment to a bank she never went to in the first place.

"And they couldn't tell me why that happened," said Bryan.

This all began back in 2009 when Bryan received a notice from Citibank Mortgage saying her house payment was late. But wait, she didn't even have a loan with Citi.

"I was like, 'Who is Citi Mortgage?" said Bryan.

Her lender was ABN-AMRO, which financed a house she owns in Virginia Beach. Her auto-pay service did send the payment, so why the late notice -- and why from Citibank?

"Well apparently Citi Mortgage bought my loan two years prior? and they had not informed me," said Bryan.

It turns out, Citi Mortgage had bought out ABN mortgages way back in 2007. Bryan said she never received a notice that she had a new lender. For the next two years she'd been sending payments to her old bank and for two years those payments were forwarded to Citi Mortgage. She didn't know that either.

Then in 2009, payments were no longer forwarded to Citi. That's when trouble started.

"I received a letter from Citi Mortgage saying that my payment was late and that they were sending a letter to all four of the credit bureaus," said Bryan.

Sure enough, the late charge showed up on her credit report. Bryan told Citi-Mortgage this wasn't her fault, she had made the payment to the wrong bank.

"You just took my mortgage, failed to tell me that, and then when this issue comes up two years later, I find out you own my mortgage and I've been making payments to the wrong people," said Bryan.

She says the blemish made it hard to refinance her San Francisco home. She said "...which I did, but at a much higher rate than I should have had to pay."

Three years after the late notice, the ding remained on her credit report and she was still pleading her case to the bank.

"He said, 'Who do you think you are? Do you think you're somebody special, that we don't have to report your late payment?' I said, 'But wait a minute, I made the payment,'" said Bryan.

Finally Citi sent her this letter saying her dispute was now considered "frivolous." There would be "no further correspondence." Bryan had enough.

"And I went to 7 On Your Side and I said, 'This is so not right,'" said Bryan.

We contacted Citi Mortgage which declined to discuss the case citing privacy rules. However, it did finally agree to remove the late charge, telling us: "We are pleased this matter has been resolved and apologize for any inconvenience. We also appreciate ABC7 bringing this matter to our attention."

Bryan received a letter saying, "'We are so sorry that you've been having a problem and we're going to send to the credit bureaus that this was a mistake.' And they did -- after three years."

Thanks to Citi Mortgage for responding and clearing Bryan's credit report. It's not uncommon for banks to buy and sell mortgages, so it's really important to read your statements and notices to learn of any changes that are going on.

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