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Can the Wall Street Journal get Chase loan modification answers?

May 10, 2010: A reporter from the Wall Street Journal responded to a copy of my letter to Mr. David Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending. He wanted to know if I’d heard back from Mr. Lowman and I told him I had not. It had been thirteen business days since confirmed USPS Certified Mail delivery (April 21, 2010) of my letter to Mr. David Lowman regarding his testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services and I’d planned to place a follow-up call later in the day.

With that we spoke about a story the Wall Street Journal was developing about people who were worse off after having applied for a loan modification. I knew that simply applying for a modification resulted in a ding on your credit record and as we spoke it became clear I was much worse off having waited for almost 15 months with no definitive and actionable response from Chase on a loan modification.

I had drained my savings, damaged my credit rating and spent countless hours chasing answers about how I might work something out with Chase to revise the terms of the mortgage. I knew I did not qualify for a HAMP modification but I also knew Chase had an in-house modification program; everything in life is negotiable if you can meet face to face with a decision-maker. I wondered if the Wall Street Journal might be able to get answers when I could not, and decided I had little to lose by participating in the article.

The Chase Home Lending Shell Game

April 25, 2010, 3:55 pm: Natalia Carrillo called from Chase (800) 848-9380 ext. 382-3158, wanting to discuss my loan. I figured she was looking for money but as the call unfolded I realized she was my new contact. I asked what happened to Olga Danilova, was she off the case? Natalia said a lot had changed at Chase and there were “new processes”; she was tasked with getting the files moving. She went on to say that previously Chase had been doing three-month trial modifications and then determining if the loan qualified for a permanent modification (implying that Underwriting was reviewing the loan during or after the trial modification).

Natalia said Chase was “not going to waste people’s time” putting them in a trial modification and then determining they didn’t really qualify. (Interesting – Chase had wasted fourteen months of my time when even a three-month trial modification would have made a world of difference to me). Per Natalia, they were now doing the Underwriting first; she required a complete package so there would be no questions for Underwriting and after a decision from Underwriting they were only doing trial modifications on “qualified” loans. I should have asked right then what a “qualified” loan was…

I told Natalia it seemed like we were in a parallel universe…what happened to all the stuff I’d submitted since February 24, 2009 and what about my conversations, follow-up, denials, re-openings and re-submissions with Jacqueline Ham, Megan Valdivia and Olga Danilova at the Chase Home Lending Executive Office? Natalia said since I was now over two months past due, the file had moved on to her area and she was responsible.

Natalia went on to review much of the paperwork I’d submitted and told me that some additional and updated paperwork would need to be submitted. She was extremely thorough and opened many files (the files seemed to be in a pdf format). She asked questions about some things she found unclear and she walked me through a required list of documents which she said could all be found on the Chase web site at https://www.chase.com/ccpmweb/chf/document/Borrowers_Assistance_Form_Chase_2009.pdf  She told me I needed to download, print, complete and return several forms, and provide more copies of checking statements and pay stubs. She said my 4506-T had expired (it was only good for 90 days) and it was essential I submit a new form, the RMA Hardship Affidavit. Essentially Natalia Carrillo was requesting yet another loan modification application. She noted there was a “Hardship Letter” in my file dated April 5, 2010, but I still needed to submit the RMA Hardship Affidavit.

Natalia’s reference to an April 5, 2010 “Hardship Letter” made no sense. I told her I’d submitted a handwritten hardship form “inside the box” on the modification application sent 12/11/09, as well as the original submitted February 24, 2009 – what letter could she be talking about? Natalia opened the file and said, “Oh, it’s a letter to Jamie Dimon. She then scrolled down further and saw additional faxes and letters I’d sent, none of which had anything to do with hardship.

I could now understand why I’d not heard back from Jamie Dimon – all of my letters to Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO JP Morgan Chase, were electronically filed and forgotten, along with faxes offering explanations, clarifying details, outlining the situation and offering solutions. I should have asked if my letter to David Lowman Chase Home Lending CEO was in there but I didn’t.

Natalia next looked at a utility bill and asked about my residency; I said perhaps she’d want to scroll down further in the “Hardship” file to my Cape May County, NJ Voting Record. Natalia demurred; saying, “I see your 2008 tax return has the address, that’s sufficient”, then she requested updated utility bills at the service address anyway! Natalia asked if I could submit everything within a week and I said it would be in her hands by 4/28/10 at the latest. She said she’d mark the files for a 4/29/10 follow-up and we ended the call.

Mr. David Lowman, Chase promised loan modification answers!

April 22, 2010, 1:44 pm: I emailed a copy of my April 19, 2010 letter to David B. Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending, even though I had a USPS Certified Mail delivery confirmation dated April 21, 2010 at 10:54 am. I really needed answers about my loan modification. It made sense to test out the Chase e-mail protocol I’d deduced and verify the David Lowman Chase contact information, so I sent David.B.Lowman@chase.com  a copy of my letter; it was not returned as undeliverable. Mr. Lowman might be like Jamie Dimon – his assistants might intercept his mail and redirect it to the Chase Home Lending Executive Office; this sort of document hand-off often resulted in problems. Of course Mr. David Lowman might also be out of the office to testify before Congress again.

Mr. David Lowman, Chase promises loan modification answers…

April 19, 2010, 4:47 pm: I decide to write a letter to Mr. David B. Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending, and take him up on his testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services. In addition to the letter I outline my attempts to get loan modification answers in a nineteen page enclosure and send it to Chase Home Lending CEO Mr. David Lowman via Certified Mail, copying Jamie Dimon, Chase CEO; Senator Frank Lautenberg; Senator Robert Menendez; Congressman Frank LoBiondo and Philadelphia Inquirer real estate columnist Alan J. Heavens. Mr. Lowman promised answers; after almost fourteen months of trying to play by Chase’s ever-changing and secret rules, I need an end to opaque banking procedures and I need straight answers. This predatory loan originated by Washington Mutual and serviced by Chase must be modified.

Chase, I need answers and a loan modification!

April 19, 2010, 8:40 am: Received an e-mail from Olga Danilova at Chase Home Lending Executive Office:
Hello Ms. Wright, I have not received a response on your account from our loss mitigation area. But from what I can tell your account is still being reviewed. Thank you.

I freaked out; I could see what was going to happen: I’d get one e-mail a week from Olga with no news and in the meantime, Chase would continue the predatory loan practices devised by Washington Mutual and foreclose. I had to get answers. I’d written my congressman, my state senators, even Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan Chase, and a case had been opened with the Comptroller of the Currency. What else could I do?

I searched the internet for answers and stumbled upon the testimony of Mr. David Lowman, Chase Home Lending CEO, before the House Committee on Financial Services April 13, 2010; he said that people seeking answers from Chase should come to him. I don’t have a television and I’d not heard this offer on the radio or read it in the newspaper – I can’t believe it’s true, but it is. I saw the testimony myself.

House Committee on Financial Services Chases Answers

April 13, 2010: David B. Lowman, CEO Chase Home Lending, speaks before the House Committee on Financial Services and tells people who can’t get answers to come to him. Unaware of this, I decide to share my over thirteen-month saga of chasing a loan modification and launch a blog. I truly do not know what else I can do to get a decision-maker to speak with me about modifying this predatory loan devised by Washington Mutual and perpetuated by Chase. The mortgage servicers seem to have no interest in actually helping people and I don’t know why.