The Fax Of Shame: How It Really Feels To Lose Your Home

C. and her husband are a young couple who moved into their first house just a few years ago. Unable to manage their mortgage payments, they asked their lender, PNC Mortgage, for help. The bank offered them a monthly payment $500 higher than the mortgage they couldn’t pay in the first place. Their house has sat empty and on the real estate market since January, waiting for a buyer to come along for a short sale. One did, and the nightmare is almost over. Or it would be, if PNC would just stop calling the couple and any relative whose phone number they can find, almost every day.

The last year has been a difficult/trying time as my husband and I struggled to keep our finances afloat. After charging credit cards and depleting our savings, it was inevitable that we’d become like so many Americans out there by losing our home.

We tried to play the game with our mortgage company – PNC Mortgage. Their mortgage assistance options came back with a rate of $500 MORE than our original mortgage payment and we were unable to catch up with the back payments owed. And it was with sad hearts and defeat that we opted to list our house for sale on Christmas Eve and signed paperwork on New Years Eve to downsize from a 1505 sq ft house to a 995 sq ft apartment.

With a smaller living facility came life changes — our furniture was definitely too big to take with us, and we made the choice to liquidate our Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel furniture through Craigslist and take whatever money we made and start fresh with the latest finds from IKEA. We packed up as much as we could and over three days at the end of January we started our next great adventure.

Meanwhile, I’ve been taking almost daily calls since our first missed payment in May 2011 from PNC Mortgage about the missing payments or “efforts” to work out something to save our property. The calls are pretty frequent and the worst part is that they don’t just call you. They call any relative that has a phone – mother, father, aunt, brother… and most of these numbers are unlisted, so really it’s a wonder how they find these things out.

And often the departments within the mortgage company don’t know what other departments are doing. You can get ping-ponged between departments six or seven times on a call before you get to one person who appears to know something – and two days later find out that they really had no idea at all. I’ve had to send in tax returns 9 or 10 times at 85 pages each, along with letters of hardship and bank statements. It’s humiliating – every day I’d do this at work I felt like I was doing the walk of shame and a part of my soul died inside.

This has continued for just about a year. And just when I think things are finally coming to a close, that our short sale offer is under review and things are progressing along nicely, I was greeted by this on my front door.

Below is a picture of my actual front door. And clearly that lock is not a standard lock. It turns out the Mortgage Company changed the locks on me WITHOUT NOTICE and I cannot enter my property. Yes, the property is vacant and Yes, we don’t live there and haven’t since January… but it’s really hard to make sure that everything is fine/dandy in your property when you can’t even enter your own home. Furthermore, potential buyers can’t walk through the property because that’s not a standard lockbox. Now keep in mind that I’m still making the HOA payments, yet I can’t enter my property and use all of the resources that my $276 are paying for. Just seems… odd?


Also – check out that snazzy lock. Congratulations to PNC Mortgage to pick a lock that looks least like an actual front door lock.

The point of this is to say the following: I am more than just a loan number. I am a person. I’m a person who is about to have her credit messed with for around 4-7 years because this economy is awful and my husband’s industry went belly up and he lost his job. We’ve since recovered, but this industry’s poor lending practices and inability to help me save my house has resulted in me losing my dream and safety net. I have $35 in my bank account until next payday (two weeks) and I can’t save enough to build my nest egg back up because you require me to still pay my HOA bill, yet I can’t enter my own property?

It doesn’t have to be this bad. The bank is clearly violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act by calling so often, and should be stopped. Unfortunately, calling family members is perfectly legal.

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