SAN DIEGO (CN) – Bank of America found a new way to illegally extract money from customers, according to a federal class action: deduct taxes and insurance from mortgage payments, even though the homebuyers make those payments themselves, then call the mortgage in default for the unauthorized deductions, and charge late fees and penalties.
Lead plaintiffs Rick and Susan Dolfo say that’s what Bank of America did to them.
“This is yet another tale of Bank of America cheating its customers,” the complaint states. “In 2005, plaintiffs obtained a residential mortgage loan. Bank of America subsequently bought the servicing rights to the loan. From the time the loan was issued, plaintiffs complied with their obligations under the loan agreement. They made their monthly payments, maintained the required homeowner’s insurance coverage and timely paid their property taxes. Nonetheless, in December 2009, plaintiffs noticed on their monthly mortgage statement that Bank of America paid their property taxes and homeowner’s insurance without the plaintiffs’ knowledge or consent, and even though plaintiffs also paid them. To fund the impound account, and without informing the plaintiffs, Bank of America took money from plaintiffs’ monthly mortgage payment, not leaving enough to cover plaintiffs’ monthly mortgage payment, throwing plaintiffs into default. Once in default, Bank of America, as the loan servicer, was able to charge additional fees and penalties. Bank of America also falsely reported to credit agencies that plaintiffs were in default on their mortgage.”
The Dolfos say Bank of America had no authority to set up an impound account because they were already paying their insurance and taxes.
“Plaintiffs were not notified that Bank of America intended to create an impound account or that it created one. Plaintiffs never agreed to it. Bank of America had no authority, contractual or otherwise, to open or fund the impound account. There also was no need for an impound account as plaintiffs were already paying their insurance and taxes.
“Prior to filing this suit, plaintiffs spent months trying to work with Bank of America to solve the problems created by Bank of America: to close the impound account, stop the double payment of homeowner’s insurance and property taxes, stop the improper deduction from the monthly mortgage payments, reverse the improper default and have Bank of America correct the improper credit reporting. But, just like millions of other Americans who have tried to work with Bank of America, plaintiffs made no progress, and were constantly put off by Bank of America, mislead and ignored,” the complaint states.
The Dolfos say Bank of America also hurt their credit rating by false reports. They claim BofA has done this to other customers, and topped it off by “improper commencement of nonjudicial foreclosure on these properties secured by Bank of America loans.”
BAC Home Loans Servicing is also named as a defendant.
The Dolfos seek class damages and punitive damages for breach of contract, unfair competition, violation of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, violation of the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act and conversion.
Their lead counsel is Timothy Blood with Blood Hurst & O’Reardon.