Banks Uncover Additional Wrongful Foreclosures On Military Members

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) is intended, in part, to help protect active-duty members of the armed forces from having their homes taken away by foreclosure, but as we’ve seen, this hasn’t stopped banks from ignoring the law and taking those houses anyway. Now comes a report that banks have recently uncovered hundreds of additional wrongful foreclosures on the homes of servicemembers.

According to DealBook, the government ordered the nation’s largest mortgage servicers to review their records to determine the extent to which these institutions were disregarding SCRA regulations. These investigations turned up a total of around 700 wrongful foreclosures between 2009 and 2010. DealBook’s sources say that JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo each found around 200 bad foreclosures in their records, while Citi uncovered around 100.

These are all in addition to those already discovered and alleged in lawsuits against Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citi.

In response to these discoveries, the banks point out that these wrongful foreclosures are just a drop in the bucket of the overall mortgage market. And they are all terribly sorry, etc., etc.

It’s all well and good to apologize after the fact, but this doesn’t excuse the fact that these servicers disregarded the SCRA in moving ahead with these foreclosures in the first place. A 2012 Government Accountability Office report on SCRA compliance turned up 15,000 instances where banks failed to follow the rather simple guidelines set forth by the law that limit foreclosures, interest rates, pre-payment penalties, and negative credit-reporting, on loans taken out before a servicemember enters active duty.

The report also found that regulators with SCRA oversight only spot-checked loan files at around 1-in-4 banks, and that the various agencies involved often failed to communicate with each other. Meanwhile, GAO said the military could do a better job of educating incoming active-duty servicemembers of their rights under the SCRA.