December 17, 2010, 11:29 AM ET
By Nick Timiraos
Bank of America helpfully sent out a letter last week informing a Brooklyn homeowner that the bank didn’t have all the documents needed to finalize a loan modification application.
“Our records indicate that we are still missing some of the required documents, or some of the documents were sent to us with missing or incorrect information,” said the form letter dated Dec. 6.
But there was one problem: the letter was addressed to the couple that sold the Brooklyn apartment in 1998. It arrived in the mailbox of a Wall Street Journal reporter who bought that apartment and has never had a mortgage on it.
It’s no secret that banks’ paperwork problems have plagued the Obama administration’s Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, and the letter offers a glimmer into potential miscues. Borrowers frequently tell of sending and resending paperwork three or four times, while banks often say that modifications aren’t being completed because borrowers aren’t filing all the necessary documentation.
Bank of America says this letter was sent in error after a loan modification negotiator entered in the wrong nine-digit loan number and that the incident appears to have been “very isolated.” “It was simply someone going into a template [who] punched in the wrong number,” said a bank spokeswoman. “Obviously, we’re very sorry for the confusion.”