Bank of America Provided Pre-Answered Questions by Independent Foreclosure Reviewers
Until recently, Bank of America was in a prime position to sway “independent” reviewers who decided whether the bank had wronged homeowners during foreclosure proceedings.
Set up by the federal government, the Independent Foreclosure Review was designed to examine the cases of those who had their homes taken from them, and determine if a bank, such as BofA, had acted improperly during the process.
But ProPublica has found out that the independent reviewers weren’t starting out with a “blank slate.” Instead, hundreds of questions regarding each foreclosure case were answered by BofA personnel—answers that had to be overridden by reviewers if they disagreed with them.
BofA did not provide answers to the most critical questions of whether the bank should compensate homeowners and how much for any wrongdoing. “But those ultimate determinations depended on responses to the preceding questions, and for reviewers the path of least effort was to accept the bank's answers,” ProPublica wrote.
The bank’s practice of filling in answers stopped in November, after an earlier story from the investigative news website revealed that BofA was performing a lot of the work for the Independent Foreclosure Review.
BofA insists that reforming its system does not mean that its earlier reviews were tainted. However, National Consumer Law Center’s Alys Cohen told ProPublica that the bank’s claim is “hard to imagine,” adding that “it seems obvious that the earlier reviews should be re-reviewed."
The reviewers are charged with examining the cases of 4.4 million homeowners. Victims are eligible to receive up to $125,000 in cash compensation and in some cases get their homes back.
To Learn More:
Cheat Sheet: BofA Supplied Default Answers for ‘Independent’ Foreclosure Claims Reviewers (by Paul Kiel, Pro-Publica)
Government Accused of Allowing Bank of America to Investigate Itself about Foreclosures (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
Bank of America Smacked with Foreclosure Fraud Lawsuits (by Matt Bewig, AllGov)
Bank of America Forecloses on Houses without Mortgages (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky)
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