A couple of days ago, I saw him in the Post Office early in the morning. He was quiet, and his normal cheer was missing. Since no one else was in line, I started talking to him. Here is his story ...
About a year ago, he started having financial difficulties. He didn't elaborate on the causes. Bills were stacking up, and he was having a hard time making his mortgage. He went to a White House web site that he heard advertised, looking for help with his situation. He clicked on the link on the web site.
(Those of you who have been with me for a while will remember that I called out this White House web site - it was a scam. The links provided gave the impression that it was a government program to assist folks who had problems with their mortgages - what it actually was was a rotating link connecting to a series of private 'credit counseling' services.)
The folks he was connected to was a private 'not for profit' credit counseling service located in California. They didn't tell him exactly what they were up front - during this whole process, he was under the impression he was talking to part of the government - courtesy of Obama's web site.
They took an initial sign up fee, and talked him into giving them access to his bank account electronically. They have been siphoning off several hundred dollars a month ever since, for their 'services'.
His mortgage company is Bank of America, who inherited it from Countrywide. BofA refused to work with him to modify his mortgage payments. The credit counselors said they would take care of it - leave it, and all of his bill worries, to them.
The credit counselors had him sending piles of money all over the place. He had to raid his retirement plan, eventually withdrawing half of it to meet their demands. He had to take out payday loans to pay other bills - a terrible mistake, for he now pays over $500 a month just in interest on those payday loans.
He was led to belive that his mortage had been reworked. He even received a new contract and payment book from Fannie Mae, and was about to make his first payment to them, since they indicated they had assumed his mortgage.He finally thought he was getting caught up, until two days ago, when the credit counselors called him and told him to prepare to leave his house - it was being foreclosed on. He was given a total of 4 days notice to vacate his house. Prior to that, all contact with the counselors indicated everything was fine, BofA was happy with the payments, and not to worry about anything. He called Fannie Mae to inquire about what he had received from them - and was told that his case had actually been denied, and that the materials he had received had been sent to him by mistake.
The credit counselor demanded that all of his communication with them be via fax or writing. All of their communication to him was via phone. Done on purpose, so he does not have a paper trail of what they told him.
A useful lesson to all of us. A Post Office window clerk with 22 years in makes pretty good money. He had a very good retirement set up, by the government. Now, through some misteps of his own coupled with deceit by the US government, hardasses at the mortgage company, and thieves at a US government approved credit counseling service, he is bankrupt. He lost a house he's been in for 20 years - and for which he's paid 20 years worth of mortgage payments. Heck, he even had to sell his car to meet one of the counselor's bill demands.
Now, Obama isn't the only bad guy in this. Yes, I blame him for purposely misleading folks through the White House web site - hooking people up with these thieves. However, listening to all his rhetoric, wasn't he going to prevent this sort of thing from happening? Wasn't he going to punish the mortgage companies and the banks, so that they couldn't do this to anyone? Weren't Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac going to come to the rescue of people in this exact predicament?
I wish I could do somehting for this man, but he's so far in the hole that the only thing that is of any use is just to listen.
Sorry for the long read ... this just really pisses me off.