EUGENE, Ore. - The Ulino couple has been facing an interesting situation for four years now. In 2014 they began receiving letters and phone calls from United Security Financial claiming they owed them money in mortgage payments, but the couple claimed they'd never done business with the bank.
After going back and forth with the bank, they said they're left with no money, hope, or credit.
KEZI spoke to a local lawyer who specializes in bankruptcy and taxes to provide a break down of how this even happened to the couple. Right off the bat, he said he'd never encountered something like this before.
"Those individuals have a very unfortunate situation. I've always felt it was possible this could occur, but I've never seen it in any of my clients," Kent Anderson, said.
The first thing he said threw him off was the lack of a "hello" and "goodbye" letter. He first explained that neither of the banks owned the loan, but they were servicers. This means they collect the money for the entities who own it. He said that servicers often get switched around, but when that does happen the current one will send a "goodbye" letter to the homeowner and the new one will send a "hello" letter.
Looking closer at the situation, the lack of those letters made Anderson believe there was simply a mix up with the bank contacting the couple. Whether it was due to similar names, addresses, or anything of that nature, he said they likely got their information by accident, and once they believed they needed to collect the couple's money, they started attempting to do so.
"They don't just get one of them at a time, and one person that says, 'okay this is the Smith loan,' set up a little file folder. No, it's all by computer," Anderson said, making it clear that he believes an accident like this could easily happen.
He said the lien on the Ulino's home was quite possibly just a scare tactic to get them to pay, and that the bank didn't have the power to do that. He said they likely wouldn't have the power to foreclose their home either.
He did say they had the power to hurt their credit score, which they took advantage of. Anderson said any credit reporting entity has both the power and the obligation to report payments that aren't being made, even if they're not viable payments in the first place. United Security Financial did this, which caused the Ulino's credit score to drop more than 200 points.
"They have the ability to do it. It's not lawful. There is a fair credit reporting act that will allow a remedy in federal court," said Anderson.
He did say that, unfortunately, the Ulino's were doing everything they can to fight this. He said even if you do all the right things, you could end up losing more money in the long run because you end up paying taxes on attorney fees that aren't covered when you eventually may get reimbursed.