Big banking has done it again. As if it needed any more negative press, Chase bank opened itself up to criticism by sending an Aurora, Colo., woman’s mortgage documents to the wrong person, reports CBS 4 Denver. This is another in a long line of incidents – like robo-signing – where a bank has mishandled a consumer’s mortgage documents.
Adding customer insult to customer injury
All retiree Penny Dougherty wanted was to get a loan modification on her upside-down mortgage. She’s been trying to negotiate a refinance for three years, and like many consumers during this recession, she is near the end of her financial rope. To have her mortgage documents land in the hands of a complete stranger in Massachusetts who had nothing to do with the approval process adds insult to injury – not to mention the potential for further injury, if the stranger was interested in stealing her identity.
Even with relief from the National Mortgage Settlement or a loan modification from Chase, identity theft could dig a potentially insurmountable hole.
“I want a payment I can afford,” Dougherty told CBS4. “ My payment stands at more than half of my income.”
While not an excuse, part of the problem is that Chase bank has required Dougherty to fax information back and forth dozens of times during the so-far incomplete mortgage loan modification process. The potential for an administrative gaffe rises as bureaucratic inefficiency mounts.
“It just went on and on. I can’t remember the times that I faxed everything,” she said.
An honest stranger
Thankfully, the stranger in Massachusetts who received Penny Dougherty’s Chase mortgage paperwork, Joe McStowe, is an honest man. He contacted Dougherty via telephone to inform her of what happened.
“I don’t want you to think this is a prank, Ms. Dougherty,” he told her during the call.
The paperwork of her that he accidentally received from Chase included Dougherty’s full mortgage payment history, loan number, full name and address and telephone number. In sum, it was a frightening amount of information for Chase to carelessly release to the wrong address.
Chase claims to take data protection seriously
CBS 4 Denver approached Chase for an explanation as to how things like what happened to Penny Dougherty can happen when a supposedly professional organization is managing her personal information. The following was Chase bank’s statement:
“We take the protection of an individual’s information very seriously. We recently learned of an isolated incident where a borrower’s payment history was sent to another customer in error. We immediately retrieved the document and are providing the customer with free credit monitoring for one-year.”
There are two large problems with the statement. First, free credit monitoring can be obtained without a bank’s help through annualcreditreport.com, so that offer is half-hearted at best. Secondly, McStowe mailed the documents to their rightful owner, Dougherty. Chase had nothing to do with recovery of the documents, and as such, the bank appears to have lied to the media. Hopefully, Chase will realize the error of its ways and begin chasing down potential customers with good offers, no hidden fees and honesty. Unfortunately, honesty appears to come at a premium when a consumer is dealing with monolithic financial institutions like Chase.