FOX 4 Investigative Report
File a complaint with the Texas Attorney General
Hundreds of customers of the mortgage giant complain they are getting socked with unnecessary fees and threats of foreclosure. If you have a complaint against Washington Mutual, you should direct those complaints to the Texas attorney general at 512 463-2100 or www.oag.state.tx.us.
TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL INVESTIGATES WASHINGTON MUTUAL
The Texas Attorney Generals office is now investigating Washington Mutual after an exclusive News Station Investigation. Hundreds of customers of the mortgage giant complain they are getting socked with unnecessary fees and threats of foreclosure. Washington Mutual has more than 6 million customers across the country. As the company has rapidly grown, so has its list of unhappy customers. "You feel like you have been violated," says Pam Kent. "You lose sleep over it, wondering if you are going to get a letter setting a date when you have to get out." Kent and her husband say they have been paying their mortgage payments to Washington Mutual, but the lender sent a letter stating they were missing payments. The Kents say they faxed the canceled checks four times to Washington Mutual, but still received two foreclosure letters. They started to panic when an inspector showed up to survey their property. "Do we have to find a lawyer to fix this? That is just a lot of money we don't have for something that shouldn't be an issue," says Kent. The Kents are not alone. After our February story aired, hundreds of angry Washington Mutual customers contacted FOX 4 News.
"Every month it is a new charge, every month a new charge," says Paula Godwin. Godwin says Washington Mutual was charging her for insurance even though she pays it separately. "It is always 5-7 business days and then you get the mail and it is a new charge," Godwin complains. Godwin and her husband now record all their conversations with customer service. Attorney Jack Peacock of Gagnon and Peacock now has more than 20 Washington Mutual clients in Dallas. Peacock says he believes these cases involve negligence and a breach of contract. "Every homeowner, when they buy a home, signs a deed of trust. Those are contractual agreements. If you are making your payments timely, you are afforded the peaceful possession of your home."
A former Washington Mutual employee sat down with FOX 4 News to tell us what is going on behind closed doors. The employee did not want her face shown because she still works in the mortgage industry. "It's a sweatshop. They work these people atrocious hours, Saturdays, Sundays, all hours of the night. You have incompetence, people angry, who don't care about customer service and it is going to keep escalating." the former worker told FOX 4 News.
When FOX 4 News first started reporting on Washington Mutual, the Texas attorney general's office reported no complaints. But we went back to the state after complaints poured into KDFW. Now, the attorney general's office is reporting 120 complaints filed.
Washington Mutual would not respond to our story on camera. Instead we got a written statement from Tony Meola, EVP, Service Delivery, Washington Mutual Home Loans: "We are deeply concerned any time a customer has a less than positive experience with our company and work hard to quickly resolve any issue that is called to our attention. During the last 18 months, home mortgage rates have dropped to a 40-year low, causing a tidal wave of purchases and refinancing across the nation. This, coupled with increased levels of customer requests for special assistance during these tough economic times, has put a strain on all mortgage lenders and their ability to keep pace with customer demand while maintaining service levels. To help meet this challenge, we regularly evaluate the size and capacity of our customer service department to ensure that it is operating at optimum levels. We have expanded our service hours and enhanced our accessibility via the internet. In addition, we have been introducing new technology that helps streamline our processes and is improving our customer service levels. We continually strive to meet or exceed the expectations of our more than 6 million customers. However, we recognize that on occasion we have fallen short of this goal, and for this we sincerely, apologize." Washington Mutual has set up a special customer service line to help expedite requests: 888.400.3682.
If you have a complaint against Washington Mutual, you should direct those complaints to the Texas attorney general at 512 463-2100 or www.oag.state.tx.us.
The federal Office of Thrift Supervision regulates the banking industry. Complaints can be filed by contacting the office at www.ots.treas.gov.
The Dallas and Tarrant County Bar Associations can refer you to a lawyer if you need to find someone who handles real estate law in your area.
State Representative Burt Solomons of Carrollton is also proposing an interim study of Washington Mutual. He can be contacted at 512.463.0478. His mailing address in Austin is PO Box 2910, Austin, Texas 78768-2910. His Carrollton address is 1029 Rosemeade Pkwy. Suite 108, Carrollton, TX 75007. Phone: 972.394.3904. Solomons is the Chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee.
If you have had a problem with Washington Mutual, you can e-mail Becky Oliver or call her at 214.720.3255.