Mortgage Shark Attack

Photo: Wikimedia Commons


The economic meltdown has been rife with villains, from corporate execs who turned their TARP payouts into multimillion dollar paydays, to corrupt politicians who favored Corporate America for their own financial gain.

Another group for the scoundrel list? Loan servicers, the mortgage middlemen who literally cheat Americans out of house and home because (you guessed it) it lines their pockets. While fact-checking a story about these sharks, I rifled through a thousand legal complaints against the nation’s ten largest mortgage servicers, and spoke with homeowners who have been cheated out of thousands of dollars—all while fearing they may literally be kicked to the curb.

Last year, as the problem worsened, Obama established the Home Affordable Modification Program to try to get servicers to negotiate with homeowners to keep their homes. But after months, the program has not done nearly enough to prevent predatory servicing or skyrocketing foreclosure rates.

In her testimony (pdf) to Congress last year, attorney and mortgage expert Diane Thompson called the epidemic a “foreclosure tsunami.” And with little to suggest a systemic change, it doesn’t look like it will stop raging anytime soon.

Read the full story here.

See a list of subprime lenders who are reaping the benefits of HAMP here.

And click here for a list of resources to help homeowners deal with mortgage hell.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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