Some of you may remember the story from October of the New Jersey woman whose brother squandered more than $200,000 in loans tied to the home they inherited on numerous internet scams, and who was left facing foreclosure when the same brother passed away. After the media got involved, the bank said that after years of denying her a modification, it finally wanted to grant her one — but you wouldn’t be able to tell by their actions in the weeks since.
Quick back story: When the woman’s father passed away in 2000, she and her brother inherited the house he’d paid cash for many decades earlier. In 2006, the brother convinced her to co-sign a home equity line of credit for $120,000, which he then blew on every internet scam in the book. He also managed to run that debt up to $217,000 when the bank, PNC, stupidly allowed a bogus $97,000 check from one of the scammers to be processed.
Then the brother died in 2008, leaving his sister with a mountain of debt and countless mixed messages from PNC. She was eventually able to — or so she thought — get the total of the debt down to the original $120,000, but the statements she’d receive from PNC listed wildly varying amounts from month to month.
Ultimately, last spring she got a judge to issue a forbearance on the loan while PNC worked out some sort of modification on the loan. But once again, PNC denied the modification, saying that since the woman’s signature wasn’t on the original note, she wasn’t an authorized borrower. Of course, they had no problem with going after her for the amount on the loan; they just wouldn’t modify it for her.
The bank had also tried to tell her it couldn’t modify HELOCs, which is simply not true.
But then in October, after the Newark Star-Ledger, got involved, PNC suddenly changed its tune and said it would offer a modification.
But then a few weeks later, the woman gets a packet of paperwork from PNC addressed to her late brother and asking her to confirm that she is indeed her dearly departed sibling.
The woman called up her PNC rep and asked why the paperwork was being sent to her dead brother and not her. “He tried to umm, uh, uh, uh, it away by saying that, that was actually meant for me and that I should just go ahead and fill it out,” she tells the Star-Ledger.
The rep promised to send a letter clarifying that the modification would be in her name and not her brother’s, but — as seems to happen in these situations — the letter never arrived.
Instead, she got a different letter in December saying to fill out the paperwork in her late brother’s name.
“In order for us to help her, she must complete and return the package containing her financial information,” a PNC rep tells the Star-Ledger. “I know that’s her brother’s name on it, but this is the way we must proceed toward a plan that will work for her. If we do not receive the package with the information completed, we will be unable to assist her.”
The rep says that the brother’s name has to be on the paperwork because his name is on the loan. But there is no answer as to why the woman’s name can’t also be on the paperwork, as she co-signed the original HELOC and is being held responsible for quite a bit of cash.
“They stated there could not ‘legally’ be a loan modification for me because I was not the borrower,” the woman, who now says she feels like she has no other choice but to falsely fill out information in her brother’s name, tells the Star-Ledger. “Now, magically, since your first write-up on my situation, it’s not illegal anymore and they want to be able to set up a loan modification? I don’t trust them any farther than I can throw them, but I’m out of options.”
At least this woman’s ordeal is on the record with the newspaper in case this all ends up in court again.