Bamboozled: Bank and switch

Oh, the bureaucracy.BB branding

You get a mortgage. The lender tells you where and when to send your first payment. You do as instructed, mailing the check on time. The lender cashes the check.

Then the collection calls start.

That’s the short version of the bureaucratic nightmare that’s been dogging Matt and Andrea Shaw. They’ve been tangled in red tape, fighting with two giant banks since early September when the couple’s first mortgage payment was due on their new home.

On the day Bamboozled heard the Shaws’ story a few weeks ago, the family received nine collection calls from the lender, starting at 7:30 a.m.

2210‘‘It’s just not right that a big bank like Chase gets to bully and harass a good customer like me instead of trying to figure out their own mistake,’’ Matt Shaw said.


Matt and Andrea married in the summer of 2009, joining their four young children in a new family.

They knew they wanted to raise their children in Montville, and when they saw the home they eventually purchased, it was love at first sight.

‘‘The first room we entered was the kitchen and after marveling at all the amenities, I looked down to see a white porcelain farmer’s sink with a emblazoned cobalt insignia that read ‘Shaws,’” Matt Shaw said. ‘‘I instantly knew this was our home.’’

They went with a Bank of America mortgage. Based on the instructions the family received at the closing, they were to make their first mortgage payment on Sept. 1 to the Bank of America address printed on the payment stub.

The Shaws wrote the check, and it was cashed by Bank of America on Sept. 14.

‘‘Unbeknownst to me, Chase had purchased my mortgage on Aug. 5,’’ said Matt Shaw. ‘‘Unfortunately, Chase was using the wrong mailing address and never notified me that they had purchased my loan.’’

The first collections call came mid-September, and the Chase rep told Shaw the lender’s introductory letter and payment booklet were returned as “undeliverable” in late August.

The reason for the confusion: The Shaws’ home is in Montville, but the home’s mailing address is in Boonton. Chase had been sending correspondence to Montville in error, so the family didn’t receive anything about the mortgage switcheroo.

Shaw said he gave the rep his correct mailing address, along with details about where at Bank of America he sent the first mortgage payment.

‘‘She also assured me that she would address the situation and reclaim the money from Bank of America,’’ Shaw said.

That was apparently easier said than done.

On Sept. 28, Shaw received another collections call, this one advising him that Chase was going to report his “default” to the credit agencies. Shaw explained his story to several customer service reps, but said he got nowhere.

He tried Bank of America. No rep there was able to track down his payment, even though he had a copy of the canceled check.

He then called the office of JP Morgan Chase top exec Jamie Dimon, and was eventually transferred to someone who was supposed to correct the account. Nothing happened.

Moments after Shaw hung up the phone, it rang again: a new collections call from Chase. He explained his situation one more time.

‘‘(He) warned me that his hands were tied and he could not prevent the matter from being reported to the credit agencies, notwithstanding that I made my first mortgage payment to Bank of America — on time and in good faith — having never even been advised that Chase had purchased my mortgage,’’ Shaw said.

The homeowner then spent another hour trying to clear things up with Bank of America, but he continued to get the runaround.

Shaw finally talked to a rep from Chase’s executive resolution unit, who was able to stop the collection calls for part of October and November, leading Shaw to believe the case was resolved.

But in December, the threatening collection calls started again. Shaw’s December mortgage statement showed a $191 late fee and a missed payment, with past due balances.


Bamboozled called Chase and Bank of America to see if the lending giants could straighten out this mess. That’s the day the Shaws received nine collections calls.

Within hours of our call, Chase promised to stop the collections calls while the situation was investigated. A great start.

Before the week was out, Chase took some good steps to correct the Shaws’ account.

‘‘The customer’s account has been credited while we wait to receive the original funds (from Bank of America),’’ said Chase spokesman Michael Fusco. ‘‘We will update the customer’s credit information and waive any late charges.’’


Fusco said Chase would contact Bank of America directly to reclaim the missing mortgage payment.

But why did it take so long?

‘‘We apologize for the delay and are working very hard to better serve our customers,” Chase’s Fusco said.

Now Chase just has to get Bank of America to track down the mortgage payment, and then send it over to Chase.

But it seems Bank of America is having some trouble in that department. Despite half a dozen calls from Bamboozled, the bank wouldn’t comment on the status of that payment or why it hasn’t been found.

Last week, the Shaws received another mortgage statement. The “past due balance” and fees were gone.

Thanks to Chase for doing the right thing for this family, and good luck to Bank of America in finding that missing payment.