12 Confessions Of A Home Mortgage Collector

A former Wells Fargo Home Mortgage home collector has stepped forth from the shadows to tell you what’s really going on. Here’s his confession:

I was the best at what I did at Wells Fargo Home Mortgage (WFHM) for years. What did I do? I was a collector. At Wells, collectors are in charge of most aspects of a loan, notably ability to repay (like repayment plans) and loss mitigation aspects (loan modifications, etc). I was also part of WFHM’s disaster team. I no longer work there, thank god (and can take bathroom breaks that total more than 6 monitored minutes a day!). Here’s what I learned that can save you from people like the kind I used to be:

1. Chances are your mortgage is serviced (worked) by someone who has just graduated high school. A large majority of WFHM employees in major call centers have no college experience.

2. WFHM Training barely mentions loan laws and regulations. I had to download my own copy of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and even then most people in WFHM have been told that they are “legally outside of the FDCPA.”

3. Do not threaten bankruptcy. Legally we had to get the names of all those who mentioned bankruptcy to corporate attorneys, and that results in a fee. Bankruptcy will not forgive a mortgage debt.

4. Fight your bankruptcy fees with a passion! WFHM tacks on all fees regarding bankruptcies on to the loan, but these fees are not simple document fees. They are normally multiple $600+ fees regarding attorneys. WFHM will not talk about these practices with collectors. I have seen upwards of $4500 in fees regarding ONE chapter 13 bankruptcy, and when I was asked to send documentation of these fees I was told we “could not.”

5. WFHM wants to appear concerned about foreclosure, but their actual policies tell a different story. In the two years that I worked in the servicing call center the repayment plans constantly went DOWN in number of months available. In other words, when I started we could spread out a missed payment or 3 over 18 months; when I quit it was only 6 (on a Freddie Mac loan). Making things harder to repay does not help people avoid foreclosure.

6. WFHM does not actively investigate instances of deceptive lending practices. More than once I got an account that was a predatory loan, and WFHM will not do anything about it (even after telling us they would).

7. The Loss Mitigation department has NO CLUE what they are doing. The department that is supposed to be in charge of Load Modifications and such will almost always “lose” key documents to the modifications, and you will go into foreclosure. I normally kept track of loans that went to Loss Mit and 85% of the time 3 months later it had not been touched. If the loan was 4 months past due that now makes it 7 months past due. These are not low numbers either, we are talking about 85% of tens of thousands of loans.

8. Call center employees frequently hang up or transfer homeowners back into queue to avoid work. I would say it happened on 1 out of 3 calls. If someone needs to “transfer” you for a simple question, politely ask why. If you detect any attitude whatsoever speak with a supervisor.

9.Call early in the day. Calls are monitored by Quality Assurance (QA) in the mornings. All the reps know this. Low QA scores for collectors means no end of month bonus (if other criteria is met). In some cases that means an extra $300. Collectors take this very seriously.

10. Morale is dangerously low at WFHM. Most employees leave without notice or give 1 days notice. WFHM wants to achieve 98% utilization, meaning that only 2% of the day can go without talking to someone (in other words, 540 seconds without talking to someone in an 8 hour shift). Nepotism is also rampant at WFHM. The employee handbook states that family members are not supposed to have a superior-subordinate relationship in the same department, yet on my floor alone there were at least 2 supervisor-underling families.

11. Don’t argue about the due date. The due date, on 99.5% of loans, is the first. I cannot count how many people, on a daily basis, argue this. As soon as you argue the due date, don’t expect any help from the collector. Collectors at WFHM hate this more than anything else. A grace period is a GRACE period, not a blanket due date.

12.Know what you are doing when you call, because likely the collector will not. Also, if you can, deal with a local agency about your loan being past due. It’s not something to be embarrassed about. At the end of month Wells has a delinquency rate of something like 2.5% (grossly inaccurate). With an 8.5M loan portfolio that means 212,500 people are late with you. Use this website to find a counselor.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.