Is OneWest America’s Meanest Bank?

Friday, November 27, 2009
(photo: Elijah Wallechinsky)

Banks are not philanthropic operations, but OneWest Bank, the recipient of $814.2 million in federal bailout funds, has managed to distinguish itself as particularly ruthless when it comes to foreclosures. In Long Island, New York, a local judge excoriated OneWest just before Thanksgiving for trying to kick out Diane Yano-Horoski and Greg Horoski from their East Patchogue home. OneWest had refused to let the Horoskis restructure their loan after their adjustable rate rose to above 12%. Suffolk Judge Jeffrey Spinner erased the couple’s mortgage ($525,000), leaving them free and clear of the California-based bank. Spinner labeled OneWest’s actions “harsh, repugnant, shocking and repulsive,” while Greg Horoski said that dealing with OneWest was “like dealing with organized crime.”

OneWest also has garnered bad PR in Oakland, California, where it has tried to foreclose on an 89-year-old woman. Twice, local courts have told the bank to cease and desist. Irene Jones is now suing OneWest for title of her home, plus $350,000 for elder abuse, negligence, distress and suffering. Jones claims the bank’s harassment exacerbated her late husband’s depression and anxiety, helping cause his death.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Judge Blasts Bad Bank, Erases 525G Debt (By Kieran Crowley, Rich Wilner and Dan Mangan, New York Post)
Bank Won't Quit Demands on Elderly Widow (by Maria Dinzeo, Courthouse News Service)
Irene Jones vs. One West Bank (California Superior Court, Alameda County) (PDF)


Monterey 6 years ago
OneWest/IndyMac are completely incompetent. Completely dishonest. And yes, mean.
Garry 10 years ago
there is only one thing that can be done for future home buyers is when you buy a home and you see that one west will be the mortgage holder, deny to except the loan unless you can get a new mortgage holder. people as of now should not deal with one west bank for anything, they are crooks as is the feds. my mortgage is abought to more than double, i refried december of 2006 and cashed out, i steal have the money, i dint spend it, and its not in the bank, i don't know what to do, i hope i can file for bankruptcy, thin ill just rent but they are not going to get my money, if anyone knows what i can do please help my wife is disabled since feb 2007, that's why i cant make the higher payment but i know they don't care and im not going to go around and around with them and waste my time, just hope i can file for bankruptsy. if anyone can help me my e-mail is---- thanks garry
OneMacIndyWest 11 years ago
I want to tell you all a little story. The story begins, as all American dreams do, with unfettered hope and belief, but has, over time, become a nightmare from the darkest recesses of our national psyche. This is not a fairy tale, and I beg you to see yourself in our heroine; for you could find yourself in her shoes very soon. And I promise you that that is not a place you want to be. But read on, and judge the veracity of my words for yourself. I have been in the mortgage industry for almost a decade, and have seen my share of the ugly side of lending: the foreclosures, the forgotten families, and the greedy, heartless, faceless “holder of the note” gone wild. I have experienced all of this more times than I care to admit, and have been ashamed of my industry more times than I care to count, but the borrower I wish to tell you of was the reason I broke into this business in the first place. People like her, hard-working, honest Americans, are the ones a broker like myself looks for day and night, and strives to take care of in whatever capacity we are capable of. Why you ask? What makes her so special? There are many answers to these questions, and the easy answer would be that she perfectly fit the mold we in the business look for. She had been employed for 22 years with the same corporation, and had managed to pay every liability on time for her entire adult life. No late payments, no missed payments, and nothing at all to indicate that she would ever change. Her credit score was 780, and she had owned a home for 10 years in Miami Beach (an expensive place to buy). This showed unequivocally that she understood liability, and knew how to get things done in the lending market. In short, she was a lender’s dream come true. A loan you approve and forget about because the payments are always in on time, and so, as a lender, you just count money for 30 years. What could be better from our point of view than that? Every lender in the world will tell you the answer to that question is nothing; absolutely nothing. This lady decided to move to Chicago to be closer to her corporate office, so she sold her home in Miami and took her dreams and possessions north to Chicago. This took place in 2006 while the housing bubble was still growing larger, and no one outside of the industry had any expectation that it may burst at any time. She did her due diligence while looking for a home in the Chicago area, and eventually settled on a brand new property in an area ripe for gentrification. Basically, she bought in an older neighborhood that was undergoing massive urban renewal projects that were projected to raise property values in her area significantly; as long as there was no unforeseen disaster looming. That is the danger of things unforeseen. They eventually come to pass, and no one is prepared to combat them. She started with an Interest-Only Loan as at that time it made more sense to use her principal money on personal investments rather than giving it to a lender to make decisions with. Even though interest rates were high at the time, IO rates slightly higher than fixed, she was able to get the property for almost $75K less than it initially appraised for, so she was already ahead of the game. She maintained her perfect history, 0x30 on her mortgage, and everything else for that matter, but that was before the wise and powerful bankers in America decided to play 3-Card Monty with America’s future. As the signs of the encroaching financial apocalypse began to show themselves, she attempted, through her lender, to pursue refinancing, but was told her case called for the loan modification process. The press was making a fuss about how these modifications were the way for borrowers to get the help they needed to stay afloat in the carnage that followed the bubble bursting, and as an intelligent and savvy borrower with a perfect history she expected the process to go smoothly for her. In that assumption, she would have been right if not for the new credit card laws passed that allowed the companies to raise their interest rates and reduce the line of credit available on any given card. These changes have had an enormous, unintended consequence in the lending world since loans are in large part based on debt-to-income (DTI) ratios. Imagine this borrower has a credit line of $10K on a card with only a $2K balance, but is then targeted by the credit card company for a reduced credit line of say $2500, so her 20% balance has now become 80% without her actually doing anything irresponsible. Yet, when lenders looked at her DTI they would see that she is nearly maxed out on her card, and in this industry that is a major red flag. She understood DTI, and how it could affect her ability to qualify for extra money (even though she did nothing untoward or rash in terms of spending), but why should that hamper her from getting a reduced rate? It is asinine to ask a person to re-qualify for something they already have, or to tell them they must qualify to save money, but this is what is happening in America today. She signed no agreement stating she could not refinance in the future with the help of her lender, so all she is left with are questions. Questions that for her and the millions like her, unfortunately, have no good answers. The American Dream, for this model American, is quickly becoming the American Nightmare. There are so many questions our borrower wants to ask, but there are no phone lines to call or government offices to visit with any answer other than, “talk to the lender”. This is just endless runaround from the lender, and more and more frustration for her and her family. How is it possible to be locked into a loan, with bankruptcy laws so much tougher, and have absolutely no way to refinance? More transparency in the industry is great, but how can our borrowers appease the credit companies interest hikes while losing equity in their property due to the housing catastrophe and still meet the necessary financial obligations they agreed to prior to this meltdown? This is a recipe for mass bankruptcy and foreclosure; two things that hurt us all in the long run. It was March of 2009 when our borrower started the conversation about refinancing with her current mortgage company, Indy Mac, from the 7.625% IO-Loan to a 4.5% fixed rate. They explained to her that she would need to print out a new financial packet, and send it, along with all other pertinent information, in to be reviewed before they could proceed; she did just that. After an entire month had passed, she called in to check the status of her application, and was told that the servicing company, Indy Mac, was changing hands, but she would still be taken care of by the new investor, One West. Just like that, she and thousands of other customers were being sold to the highest bidder, and after some research she discovered that One West actually only paid up to far less than full value for these notes. It gets better. One West actually had the federal government guarantee them anything lost over a certain percentage. What does this mean you ask? All the numbers are there in black and white on the internet for anyone to see; but no one looks. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to see that it would be more profitable to foreclose quickly and collect the guaranteed funds than to refinance the borrower’s note at a current market rate. The changing of the servicer of her note, as unsettling as it was, would have been fine if not for the dramatic change in guidelines and customer service she experienced. This often happens after a change of this magnitude in any business field, but these differences were downright ridiculous. She was informed that the financial packet she had sent was no longer valid, so she would have to assemble another one before any process could begin. So, once again she followed procedure in hopes of capturing that elusive lower interest rate. She waited and waited for a call to inform her of the status of her newest application, and finally tried calling herself to enquire; but to no avail. Her calls were treated as a joke. They repetitiously asked for the same documents, and even claimed after three business days that they had never received her fax, and that it took all that time to verify whether or not they had received her documentation. They have done this over 50 times from March of 2009 to the present day! That is preposterous, shameful, and ought to be criminal! But it gets better; or worse for our heroine. After calling repeatedly for three months she finally got them to look at her application. They told our borrower that the check stubs submitted were out of date according to Fannie Mae guidelines (must be less than 90 days old), but when she remedied that they told our borrower that her check stubs were fraudulent. Check stubs from one of the three largest airlines in the world which she has worked with for more than 20 years by the way. They focused on some minutiae that they knew to be nothing, but she was forced to get a complete employment record from her employer to along with a Letter of Explanation (LOX) from her Human Resources department. This process has stretched into years with no results. She was even told that the best way to get help is to be late on her mortgage payments! Imagine that. It has become so bad that when she follows up on any fax or correspondence they claim she has never talked to anyone about her issue, and when she asked about recording the conversation she was told it was against their policy. I am not making this up. Every word is true and to the point, and the point is that One West and Indy Mac, Fannie Mae and the federal government are fleecing, and failing we the people. This is dangerous and uncontrolled corporate behavior, and it cannot be allowed to continue. One West has become the poster child for what is wrong with this industry; what is wrong with America in fact. In my humble opinion (and that of thousands of other Americans…not to mention all the honest lenders in the industry), they have pulled out all the stops when it comes to delaying and deceiving their customers in order to get a government handout and make a dishonest buck. This must not be allowed to stand. Help her. She has asked again and again, and researched every option. She can’t refinance due to not having value. She can’t modify because it’s not profitable to the lender to do so, and she can’t walk away as her state won’t allow this. Why I ask myself? Is it considered walking away if you have no more options? Why is it easier to profit from bad deals than good ones? There is no hope for this borrower that she can see. The only hope I can think of is a Federal Reserve for primary borrowers in America. By that, I mean the feds open the vaults to primary homeowners at a specific rate, and work directly with the borrowers from a federal standpoint. Cut the banks out. Let them focus on commercial deals and second homes where the rates are higher and people know what they are getting into from day one. I do not think these customers’ closing paperwork said anything about having to stay in one rate for thirty years. Do you know anyone on record in today’s environment that can say they stayed in their home for thirty years at the same rate? I don’t think that is even possible. Please share… Here are some sites that clearly have people in the same situation, read, educate, follow and post, let’s start the revolt against One West/ Indy Mac and Fannie Mae. Go to Google, You-tube or any engine for that matter and type class action Indy Mac, Type Complaints Indy Mac/ One West; you will see firsthand what we are all up against.
mmn 11 years ago
OneWest is Goldman Sachs in diguise!! Our tax dollars funded their bailout and then they used our $70 billion to prop up the market to make a fortune and create this phoney new bank too which is scooping up previously ethical banks in sweetheart overnight deals thanks to the government intervention. How sweet. Wa Mu was stolen by Jamie Diamond, at Chase another horrible and disgusting bank. And do not waste your time with the Loan Mod lies, it is a game to appease the public as they make certain no one can buy your property since no loans are available and then they steal your home at an incredibly delfated price, throw you out on the street and ruin your credit. Nice little game. And where is the media? Discussing vacuous celebrity drivel. May God help us all. One World government, One world bank, and One World Religion here we come, the final battle is for our souls, don't let them have yours!!!!
Rebecca 12 years ago
OneWest SUCKS. The old Indy Mac was okay. I too noticed the second One West took over they were ruthless. They would call me 5, 10 times a day starting on the 10th of the month, when my due date for paying was the 16th and I paid online!! Then I got into financial trouble. My business dropped off 50% due to the recession/depression. IndyMac was bought out by uber billionaires George Soros and Michael Dell. Then the gloves came off and all nicey nice disappeared from Indy Mac along with any organization or fair business practices. I could not pay my Los Angeles County Property taxes and was working with the tax assessor. My home was not in any danger of a tax sale--NOTHING. OneWest paid the property taxes, slapped a "shortfall" on an escrow account and came up with $20k I needed to pay them in 12 months effectively raising my mortgage 100%. I tried to negotiate a reasonable 5 year repayment plan. I sent and resent and sent again all the documents One West requested. I hired an attorney to help (that's another story). Bottom line, One West doesn't care about you, your family or throwing you on the street. IF YOU HAVE BEEN A VICTIM OF INDY MAC/ONE WEST AND WANT YOUR VOICE HEARD AND YOU LIVE ANYWHERE NEAR PASADENA CALIFORNIA WHERE INDY MAC'S CORP OFFICE IS, COME ATTEND OUR PROTEST JANUARY 4 AT NOON at 151 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena. Bring your sign!!!
Jayme 12 years ago
I have never asked for a modification or help. I am happy with my current mortgage and am able to pay what I owe. I didn't buy something I cannot afford to pay for. I do have some intelligence and am not a sheep to be led to the slaughter. Some of us actually DO know what we can afford and what we can't! I was trying to get the point across that I don't appreciate being harrassed when I'm not even late on my mortgage. I have been paying on it for 13 years now and have not missed a payment yet. I don't understand why they feel they need to waste their time as well as mine by calling 10 to 12 times a day when I am not even late. Just because of that, I will pay the last possible day I can without breaking my end of the contract. They need to spend their time calling people who actually don't pay their payments. But, unfortunately our society has begun to give to those who aren't responsible and to heck with those who are. What the hell is the matter with this picture! Don't harrass your customers who actually pay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Call those who don't!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Gabriel Thomas 12 years ago
This is more then a OneWest/Indymac bank issue. I see these types of situations happen all the time to homeowners regardless of who currently services their loan. I work with homeowners everyday who are told the same thing, which is " We can't help you since you are making the payments". In other words in the banks eyes if you're responsible you can't get help. The flipside of this is the fact that the banks rarely modify loans anyway, and when they actually do it's a 5 year band-aid at most. I have seen many people wait & wait for a loan modification, and some even stop making payments in hopes of getting one, and end up losing their home in the process. My daily experience with people, and what they go thru trying to get help prompted me to write an article called " Why Loan Modifications Don't Work" I hope everyone finds the help they're seeking when fighting back against the banks!!!! Oh by the way here's a new press release about The H.A.M.P Program: The Administration has sent a clear signal that its primary foreclosure mitigation initiative, the Home Affordable modification program (HAMP), is not working. In a press release today, Treasury and HUD announced new efforts to convert three-month trial modifications to permanent mortgage restructuring. Of 650,000 homeowners in 3-month deals so far, 375,000 are said to be coming to the end of their trial periods by December. In October the Congressional Oversight Panel revealed that only about 1,700 permanent modifications had been completed. Treasury promises to tell us for the first time in its December report, due around the 8th or 9th, how many trial mods each servicer should have made permanent by now, and how many have actually converted. While the tone of the release suggests that much of the problem lies with homeowners failing to provide documents on time, the evidence from counselors and mediators is that there is a massive systems failure on the part of the mortgage servicing industry. While some of the temporary mods are likely to fail, so far reports are that 80% of homeowners in the program are making their payments. It would be unconscionable for these homeowners to lose their homes on account of missing paperwork. This is probably the 3rd government bailout program that has failed miserably.
Jayme 12 years ago
I have a mortgage with what was Indymac Bank and is now One West Bank and they are horrible. I am not behind on my mortgage; however, they start calling me the day the mortgage is due (not after the late date) at least 10 times a day when my payment is not even "legally" late. They can kiss my ..........! I am going to refinance with another company. And get this, I have approximately 75% equity in my home. I don't owe them hardly anything and am not even late. Add me to the list.......... I AGREE.....THEY ARE THE WORST BANK EVER AND BANK OF AMERICA IS NEXT IN LINE.
Lisa Amaral 12 years ago
They are the meanest bank, they called my husband on yesterday on Thanksgiving. We have been trying to pro active for the past 1 1/2 trying to get help with our loan. He first tried to stop escrow and pay the taxes and insurance separately but of course to Indymac at the time we did not qualify. He tried to re-finance but of course the house will not appraise in this down market. When the H.A.M.P was implemented we did the questionnaire and qualified. One West Bank sent my husband the hardship package and we completed it twice because they kept saying it expired while he was waiting for the reply. Finally received a reply and was told we do not qualify because we are not seriously delinquent. He is current on the mortgage and always has been, it seems as though One West Bank want you to have bad credit in order to increase the chances of them ultimately taking your home. The stated that we can download the short sale package on do a forbearance. We to stay in our home not sell it. What part of loan-modification don't they get. My theory the investors that own the loan want people to default so that they can increase their inventory for when they need money. It is causing our household a lot stress and tension because we know we qualify as a household for the modification but because we pay them every month they have no intention of helping out. The "American Dream" is gone!!!!

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