NEWBURY (CBS) – Yvonne and Gene Dumas returned from vacation last January to a disaster in their home.
The furnace had backfired while they were away and the house was covered with soot, both inside and out.
“The smell was just awful,” Yvonne said. “It took weeks to get rid of the smell.”
Their insurance company agreed the whole house needed to be repainted, insulation replaced and sheetrock repaired, so it sent a check made out to the Dumas’ and the mortgage company, Ditech.
According to Holden Lewis, an analyst for Bankrate.com, it’s not unusual for mortgage companies to hold onto the settlement until the work is lined up.
“They don’t want someone to collect the money and just skip out and go on a long vacation,” he said.
The problems for the couple started when the work was ready to go, but the money was still unavailable.
“Over the course of six months, there had to be 100 phone calls,” Yvonne said, outlining a long list of excuses she said she heard from Ditech. “It’s being processed. Then it was the paperwork was lost, or it’s missing a digit. It was just one story after the next.”
The I-Team uncovered a long list of similar complaints about Ditech from the federal government’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), the Massachusetts Attorney General, along with consumer websites.
One consumer wrote to the CFPB, “Each time they come up with some other reason for not returning the money.”
Another consumer complained, “They are currently sitting on $15,000 that I need to pay my contractor.”
Boston attorney David Dishman settled a case against Ditech on a different issue. Since then, he has received a steady stream of complaints from frustrated consumers, many concerning the company’s bookkeeping practices.
“I get three calls a day and three to four emails a day, every day, all on Ditech,” he said.
The Dumas’s also spotted all those negative reviews.
“That’s when my husband said, ‘I’m calling WBZ,’” Yvonne recalled.
WBZ’S I-Team is joining forces with Call for Action to resolve disputes like this. Call for Action is a network of consumer advocates, located in Boston and around the country.
When WBZ reached out to Ditech, the company refused to comment, but 48 hours later, Gene got a call from Ditech.
“They explained that they wanted to send the rest of the money,” he said.
A FedEx envelope arrived the next day with a check for more than $14,000.
“We watch you and you always get results,” Yvonne told WBZ.
“You guys came to the rescue for sure,” Gene agreed.
Ditech’s parent company got into trouble in 2015, paying out $63 million in fines for mistreating customers.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has also sent a letter to the CFPB, urging the agency to more closely monitor mortgage servicing companies like Ditech.
If you run into a dead end with a consumer issue, you can reach the I-Team’s Call for Action at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-787-7352.