Ex-Countrywide Employee Sells Your Data, They Offer Credit Monitoring Service, Hang Up When You Ask For It

Re: Countrywide Sends Fraud Alert Letters: ‘Your Info May Have Been Sold,” Reader Esqdork writes, “Yesterday, I phoned Countrywide to get them to extend the credit monitoring service [that they offered in their apology letter] to my co-borrower and was promptly hung up on.” The only surprise here is that they even picked up in the first place.

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  1. howie_in_az says:

    It’s because of things like this that I now ask for the person’s name and/or employee ID number before starting in with my questions/complaints/threats of violence. “Can I have your account number please?” “Sure, but to whom am I speaking?”

  2. Canino says:

    Anyone else had any luck getting the credit monitoring extended to the co-borrower?

  3. macinjosh says:

    WTF? Did the person call back and it happened again? Did they hear “F*** off” right before the click?

    Usually a story involving a hangup involves more than one sentence. Isn’t it just possible that this was accident?

    • sleze69 says:

      @macinjosh: Usually a story involving a hangup involves more than one sentence. Isn’t it just possible that this was accident?

      Because we are talking about Countrywide and not, let’s say, American Express, it is far more likely it was on purpose and not an accident.

    • JRock says:

      @macinjosh: I kinda thought the same thing. Couldn’t it just be like the change machine not accepting your dollar the first time? How many times are people disconnected during a phone call to a company each day?

  4. JN2 says:

    It’s Countrwidastic! (ehh, work with me folks! Work with me!)

  5. oldgraygeek says:

    This is relevant to my interests: we need to make this exact same phone call.

  6. MickeyMoo says:

    Not to come to their defense, but when I called them the other day – they answered within 2min, the guy I got on the line was really polite, and I had my check within 3 days (was supposed to be 7-10)

    Maybe the OP got a bad agent at the call center, maybe the system dropped the call – can’t say – but I have had nothing but a good experience with them (and they pay really good rates on their CD’s)

  7. esqdork says:

    My conversation was longer than one sentence. I was also very calm and courteous. I said that I appreciated the credit-monitoring service and that I thought it was reasonable to extend the monitoring to my co-borrower. That’s when the CSR said they won’t do it and hung up. It may have been an accident but I doubt it.

    Also, the CSR seemed flustered when he had to go off script which went something to the effect of: “Just because your personal information was infected [sic] does not mean it was stolen.”

    Since ALL of my financial information was “infected” (I think he meant affected) I’ve had to: cancel all of my credit cards/store accounts; cancel auto-deposit of my paycheck; open new bank accounts, transfer the funds from my exsiting accounts and close the old accounts up; and contact all three credit reporting agencies and place fraud alerts on my records. Up next, requesting security freezes of my records with the credit reporting agencies (yay for Massachusetts consumer protection), filing a police report and praying that a bunch of Eastern European hackers haven’t gotten and won’t or can’t do anything horrendous with my identity.

    On a related note, Amex rocks, Citizen’s Bank takes really good care of its customers and Chase blows.

    • macinjosh says:

      @esqdork:
      Well the recounting of the the tale was only one line, that’s what i was referring to. And it’s still not clear whether you called back and got another hangup. If not, then the headline should be changed to be less muckraky.

      @JN2: I think I have a a better one, but it’s not for mixed company. :)

  8. N00BIES says:

    After getting this letter to only one of the 2 of us on the loan ( wife and i) they only gave us one password for the free monitoring. call again and they don’t know who my wife is and hung up.

    not a “happy consumer”

  9. grungyparadigm says:

    But… they sent a letter just to the borrower, not the co-borrower. If it was just the borrower’s information that was (probably)compromised, why would they extend the credit monitoring to someone whose information wasn’t compromised? Just because the account has both names on it? Two different issues entirely.

    If I remember the content of the letter, they never say that personal information was stolen. I would have just called back and tried again.

    Also, this happens all the time. Banks, other mortgage companies, hospitals, cellular phone companies, investment firms… etc. It is also not Countrywide’s fault that someone decided to get greedy and do this. The usual reason for stealing loan information is for other companies or agents to get your business, not to steal your identity. If they wanted to steal your identity, they’d find an easier way to do it.

    At least you got a letter of potential activity. Banks would have just surprised you with an empty checking account.

    Most information they would have on you is mostly public record anyway. It’s not hard to find out account number, original principal amount, address… total amount due for payoff that includes how past due the account is, prepayment penalties…

    • esqdork says:

      @grungyparadigm: As a person this happened to, I’m talking some of these comments, including yours, personally. To quote the letter:

      “a Countrywide employee (now former) may have sold unauthorized personal information about you to a thrid party.”

      According to the letter, this is the information that was stolen:

      “the customer information involved in this incident included your name, address, Social Security number, mortgage loan number, and various loan and application information.”

      My application information included ALL my credit card info, bank account balances and account numbers. My co-borrower also filled out an application and your pals at Countrywide were silent (and remains so) regarding whether my co-borrower’s info was also sold.

      It’s not Countrywide’s fault? At the very least it was reckless for the company to have a system that permits some jackass employee to go to a single computer with a flash drive and copy all of my information. Seems like a pretty easy way to steal my identity.

      As for the letter of potential activity, the only reason why customers are getting one is that most states, including the one I live in, require notification of data theft by law. I seriously doubt that Countrywide would have gone to the expense of notifying its customers if it was not required to do so.

      One final note, I didn’t choose to have a relationship with Countrywide. The original mortgagee sold my loan to the knuckleheads at Countrywide–yes, I knew it could happen but it doesn’t make Countrywide’s poor information security any more acceptable.

    • Canino says:

      @grungyparadigm: I can tell you without a doubt that the letters were not just sent to the “borrower and not the co-borrower”. I received the letter addressed to my ex-wife, when I was the primary borrower on the loan. Her credit was bad – there was no way she was the primary on our loan, but I have not received the letter while she did.

      • grungyparadigm says:

        @Canino:

        I was merely stating that the letter would have been sent to whomever was affected, not a blanket letter for both borrower and co-borrower.

        @esqdork:

        No security is absolute. All the passwords, rules, regulations, searches, shredding will not keep someone from obtaining personal information. If someone wants your information badly enough, they’ll get it. Thousands of people have access to your information, and the information of millions of borrowers. If this is the only (publicly known) instance of breach of this size, I’d say that’s pretty damn good. Also, if there is a better mortgage servicer out there, you should be able to have it serviced by them.

        All we ever hear is the terrible stories about how bad Countrywide is, but never the millions of people that they service each day that have no issue with them, or the thousands of people every month they help out of foreclosure.

  10. yagisencho says:

    Fun fact: I called Countrywide over two years ago requesting that a security password be placed on my account, so that no one could fake their way into my information over the phone. They refused, as they didn’t have a policy in place to assign such a password.

    Not that it would have helped in this particular case, but it shows just how ‘very seriously’ they really take my financial records.

  11. aikoto says:

    The sad thing is that people are actually asking for the credit monitoring as if it was helpful. Credit monitoring is a complete ripoff and won’t do jack for protecting you. Instead you need a credit freeze. Details on both:

    [www.jeremyduffy.com]
    [www.jeremyduffy.com]

  12. shaug says:

    I received this letter yesterday and called this morning with the same question: do I get credit monitoring for my wife, the co-borrower. Perhaps countrywide is aware of the bad responses some of you have been receiving, because my CSR was overtly courteous and friendly. She explained that while my wife was a co-borrower, only very specific information was leaked, they’re aware of what information was leaked, and that if my wife did not or does not receive a letter, it’s because her information was not identified as having been compromised. While I’m not sure I fully believe this, at the very least she was clear and fully answered my question without hanging up on me.

  13. Kevin says:

    Countrywide’s credit monitoring service is handled by a subsidiary known as LandSafe.

    LandSafe is a great organization staffed by really helpful people. Right now it’s the only subsidiary making money for C-W, so I am surprised you got hung up on.

  14. Opt_Out says:

    Opt out people!

    The info was stolen from the marketing dept of Countrywide. If you ignored your Opt Out notices that come with your bills, your info (all of it) was in the marketing database.

    So, Opt Out! In the most severe and restrictive terms. And verify that they actually did opt you out.

    BTW, Coutrywide’s marketing dept “does not have an outside phone line”. It’s about 25-30 min on the phone to get connected to them through various “representatives” and “supervisors”.

  15. dddjones says:

    I feel this whole this is a scam itself and nothing to do with Countrywide. I called the number on the letter and was very careful and suspicious. They answer the phone in a very generic way. They had to ask what company I received the letter from, then they identified themselves as countrywide. Also, very thick accents and a distant sounding connection, like I was talking to India or a caribbean island. I just don’t feel good about the offer. Did anyone have to give these people more personal info? Like your SS#? Or did they already have it? I really feel like this is a sophisticated phishing scam itself, and nothing to do with Countrywide.