The Obama Administration’s enactment of the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was intended to help curb the mortgage crisis of 2008 by helping homeowners with loan modifications on their mortgage debt. The law allows homeowners to have reduced interest rates or loan extensions if that makes it easier for them to pay their mortgage on time. In response to the new laws, Bank of America brought in third-party vendors to “handle grievances from lawmakers and regulators on behalf of borrowers,” according to Deal Breaker.
One such vendor was Urban Lending, whose addition to the company was intended to ease the process of helping homeowners. According to nine former Urban Lending employees, however, Bank of America instructed the company to stall homeowners by placing insurmountable hurtles and obstacles in their way. Mortgage borrowers were asked to repeatedly submit paperwork, finding their incomes miscalculated or other paperwork mishandled. These delays often led to the foreclosure of homeowner’s houses.
According to Business Week, Bank of America “sent the highest percentage of rejected customers into foreclosure” at 33 percent, with the industry average at 22 percent.
One of the former Urban Lending employees that spoke out about his former company’s malicious practices explained that everyone at the company knew they weren’t truly helping people with their mortgages.
“Everyone knew that we weren’t helping people. They were giving us all the pressure and none of the power to change anything. It was this absurd, self-contained ecosystem of worthlessness,” said Erik Schnackenberg, a former Urban Lending customer service member.
Schnackenberg explains that Urban Lending employees were even given a monthly allotment of gift cards to distribute to disgruntled customers. The gift cards were valued at $25 to $50 dollars.
Urban Lending’s current general counsel and executive vice president for human resources Glenn Stevens, however, maintains that the company never had a policy of delaying HAMP-related services for its customers. Stevens described the statements of Schnackenberg and the other employees as “baseless,” claiming they “constitute nothing more than the unsubstantiated accusations of a few disgruntled ex-employees.”
In July, homeowners filed a complaint against Urban Lending and Bank of America in a Colorado federal court. The case is still pending, so Bank of America employees have refused to comment on the issue as a result of the litigation.