While millions of Americans were affected by the robo-signing scandal that resulted in massive amounts of improper foreclosures over the last several years, it seems that a number of those victims were military members.
In all, some of the nation’s largest mortgage lenders improperly foreclosed upon some 700 military members as a result of their efforts to approve as many such actions as possible, according to a report from the New York Times. The problem is that this total, which was recently revealed, is significantly higher than what was originally estimated.
In fact, many of the military members who were foreclosed upon during this time were actively serving, and some National Guard members also lost their homes while serving overseas, the report said. JPMorgan, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley already noted or settled charges that they improperly handled foreclosures for military members, but now it seems that the admitted missteps in dealing with these transactions (a combined 196 between the three companies from 2006 to 2009) were only a small number compared with what was actually happening.
“It’s absolutely devastating to be 7,000 miles from your home fighting for this country and get a message that your family is being evicted,” Col. John S. Odom Jr., a retired Air Force lawyer who represents military members in foreclosure cases, told the newspaper. “We have been sounding the alarms that the banks are illegally evicting the very men and women who are out there fighting for this country. This is a devastating confirmation of that.”
The problem with these actions taken against military members in particular is that they are protected from them by federal law, the report said. The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act requires banks to obtain court orders before they are able to foreclose upon active military members, but JPMorgan, Wells Fargo and Bank of America were found to have improperly foreclosed on another 200 such Americans in 2009 and 2010, a period outside the settlements. Citigroup had another 100 of these actions itself.
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Foreclosure can be extremely problematic for Americans, whether the action is taken properly or not. Such a transaction will likely significantly reduce their credit score and put them in massive financial difficulties if they weren’t experiencing them already.