GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - If you have ever been tossed around from one operator to the next as you try to solve your problem, Mike Gannon knows your pain.
For the last several months, he has been trying to take advantage of a multi-billion dollar national mortgage settlement.
It is designed to help people lower mortgage payments who have loans through the country's five largest banks, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo. Minnesota and 48 other states announced the 26-billion dollar settlement in February.
As part of the agreement, borrowers could get a lower rate, if the amount they owe on their mortgage is greater than the value of their home, also known as being "underwater", they're paying higher than 5.25 percent in interest, and they're current on their mortgage payments. According to documentation Gannon fits all those criteria.
So he called his lender Bank of America in April and he says the excuses came almost immediately with people unsure if he even qualified.
"Saying gosh we still don't know if the Minnesota legislature has approved this. Or I think we're still waiting for paper work from the DOJ," he recounted.
He claims one operator told him Arizona was the only state that qualified, which is not true.
After filing a complaint with the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau and getting help from the State Attorney General's office, Bank of America assigned him one person that was supposed to help answer his questions.
"The person they put me on the phone with had no idea what the national mortgage settlement was," he said.
And then he says that person sent him to someone else who allegedly directed him back to the same phone number he called in the beginning four months earlier.
"It is extremely frustrating," said advocate Ed Nelson.
Nelson, who is with Minnesota Home Ownership Center, says these types of stories are not that unusual.
That's why he urges people to take advantage of non-profit organizations like his that can help them through the process. The services are free. He also advises people not to give up.
"They should be as forceful as your consumer is being," said Nelson.
Gannon estimates his family would save about $1,000 a month if he could refinance at current rates.
And while he and his family are not in danger of losing their home, he worries about the people who are and cannot get answers.
"But there's got to be lots of customers who are in a different situation who are going end up losing their homes because the banks are slow walking processes like this," he said.
Through a statement Bank of America told KARE 11 they are still in the process of working through Gannon's case.
"We are aware that Mr. Gannon has been interested in refinancing through the agreement as we do have his loan file noted and we have spoke to him as recently as last month explaining that we had not yet been able to review him for this particular program," said spokesperson Jumana Bauwens.
After our phone calls to Bank of America, they have put Gannon in touch with a representative who is supposed to help speed up the process.
"We have escalated Mr. Gannon's loan and we hope to apprise him shortly of his eligibility under the program," said Bauwens.
Bank of America's entire statement is below:
"We are aware that Mr. Gannon has been interested in refinancing through the agreement as we do have his loan file noted and we have spoken to him as recently as last month explaining that we had not yet been able to review him for this particular program. The program is designed for customers who remained current on their first-lien mortgage payments but owe more than their home is worth today and their loan is owned and serviced by Bank of America. There are other income and credit requirements.
Bank of America is in the process of sending letters and will continue through the end of the year offering qualified borrowers an interest rate aligned with competitive refinancing rates available at the time of the offer and fixed for the remaining life of the loan. We have escalated Mr. Gannon's loan and we hope to apprise him shortly of his eligibility under the program. If Mr. Gannon does not qualify for the program, we can assign his loan to a home retention specialist so that he can be reviewed for other home retention options."