Bank of America apologizes for mistaken attempt to seize home

Freda Snowden's months-long ordeal to stop a bank from wrongly seizing a house her son owns in far south Fort Worth has ended.

Bank of America apologized this week and agreed to pay for damage to the three-bedroom house on Oldham Court caused by agents the bank hired to secure the property for foreclosure.

Snowden said bank executives admitted that their records had a coding error and know they have no claim to the property. She said it was frustrating trying to get anyone at the bank to listen to her, let alone return phone calls and e-mails.

"We have corrected the error in our files," said Ginny Zoraster, a media relations officer with Bank of America, in an e-mail response to questions. "Bank of America has contacted and apologized to the realtor and the homeowner."

Snowden calls the ordeal, which sent her through several layers of bank bureaucracy to get the problem fixed, a nightmare.

"If it's happening to me, how many other families is this happening to?" she said. "These last four months has taken at least 10 years off my life."

The bank, she said, was preparing to foreclose on the previous owner. That person bought the house in March 2007 and defaulted on the loan nine months later, deed records show.

Ira Rheingold, executive director of the Washington-based National Association of Consumer Advocates, said he's not aware of this problem happening elsewhere, but he's also not surprised by it. He said it's a reflection of a "screwed-up" mortgage system in which one company might originate a loan, another might own it, and yet another might collect and record payments, called servicing.

"The fact that nobody knows what they really own," he said, shows "how broken the system is. Record-keeping is terrible. This is a worst-case example of the lack of accountability."

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