Lorain County woman sues mortgage company over mistakes; attorney urges homeowners to inspect bills

Published: Oct. 13, 2022 at 5:41 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - A Northeast Ohio woman is bringing legal action against her mortgage company she said made several mistakes.

They are errors she said cost her hours on the phone and thousands of dollars.

19 Investigates helped her bring the case to light earlier this year.

Cleveland attorney Marc Dann is representing Michele Burns and her husband in their suit against Freedom Mortgage.

Burns reached out to us in March, saying Freedom Mortgage purchased her loan from her original lender and then messed up by paying thousands of dollars in property taxes on the wrong parcel.

We helped Burns get a chunk of her money back, the part paid on her neighbor’s parcel.

At the time, Freedom Mortgage told us in a statement “the issue has been resolved and her account has been made whole.”

However, Burns said the mistake caused another one. It affected her escrow, made her monthly payment go up $300 and resulted in thousands of dollars of overpayment.

In fact, even after our coverage, Dann said Burns continues to be overbilled each month.

“They haven’t corrected the error. We begged them,” Dann said. “Our clients just want to pay their mortgage and be left alone and not be cheated.”

Attached to the lawsuit are multiple letters Dann sent to Freedom Mortgage notifying them about the persisting error.

“When an error is made, [the mortgage company] has to, within 30 days of receiving a written request for correction of an error, they have to either correct the error or explain why there’s no error. And, if they don’t then homeowners can now sue them in federal court,” Dann explained.

Dann said over the last few decades, people have shifted from getting a loan through a well-known bank to using smaller mortgage companies instead.

“Those companies have much less of an incentive to correct mistakes when they make them,” he said.

Despite recieving a copy of the lawsuit Thursday, a spokesperson maintains there is not an issue left to resolve in Burns’s case.

In an email, Freedom Mortgage’s Vice President of Public Relations, Ellen Longo said, “Serving our customers is Freedom Mortgage’s top priority. As per our last exchange, our records indicate we worked with Ms. Burns to help fix the outstanding matter to her satisfaction.

Thanks for reaching out and providing an update, we will do our best to resolve this matter in a timely manner.”

Dann said laws passed after the recession in 2008 paved the way for Burns’s lawsuit.

“The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau put together a set of rules for how Mortgage Services like Freedom are supposed to behave,” he said.

He believes there aren’t enough homeowners that know that.

“This is unfortunately not an unusual situation. Mortgage companies tend to make a lot of mistakes,” he said.

It’s up to the homeowners to catch those mistakes when they happen.

Dann said he’s seen a lot of errors lately, caused because people paused their mortgage payments during the pandemic.

He gave us some specific pointers as to what to look for to spot a mistake early and what to do when you see one.

We’ll have that story in the days ahead.