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Bridge v. Ocwen Fed. Bank, FSB - An Issue Concerning The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act

May 27, 2012

When it comes to Orange County debt settlements, banks and other financial institutions have been notorious for conveniently poor accounting methods. telephone.jpg

This is why Orange County Debt Settlement Attorney Vincent Howard always advocates for a legal professional to be involved on your behalf. You simply aren't going to have the resources to fight them if you go it alone.

This was illustrated in Bridge v. Ocwen Fed. Bank, FSB, a case decided out of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Ohio.

In this situation, what started out as a seemingly unintended and generally harmless accounting error turned into a major nightmare for this woman.

According to court records, the plaintiff, Lisa Bridge, sued the holder of her mortgage for violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Originally, the complaint was dismissed. However, the appeals court reversed that decision, allowing the case to proceed.

In fact, the court noted that the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, which was passed to protect consumers against abusive and also mistaken collection practices, was clearly intended to address these types of cases.

This case started back in 2002. At the time, Bridge wrote a check to her mortgage servicer, Aames Capital Corporation, in April of that year. But the bank that held her account, Firstar, mistakenly did not honor that check. Bridge contacted Firstar and had them issue another bank-approved check to Aames, the mortgage servicer, later that month. But Firstar also failed to honor that check. By then, Aames informed Bridge that she had incurred a late fee. Bridge had Firstar send a second bank-approved check.

But then, Firstar ended up honoring one of her original, personal checks. That meant that two mortgage payments were ultimately submitted for April.

So when May rolled around, Bridge did not send Aames a mortgage payment for that month.

Aames then sent Bridge notice that her mortgage was in default, and further that it was assigning her mortgage to Ocwen, which is a Deutsche bank. However, there was no county record of that mortgage being transferred to Ocwen (a common problem amid the mortgage crisis and subsequent MERS scandal). However, Ocwen started hounding both Bridge and her husband (whose name isn't even on the mortgage loan) for overdue payment for the month of May, despite proof that she had, in fact, made a double payment the previous month.

According to the complaint, the bank made relentless collection calls, even though the couple sent cease and desist complaints, entered themselves on the federal "Do Not Call Registry." The bank also threatened to foreclose upon their home, piled up late fees and tarnished the couple's credit by reporting non-payment to credit reporting agencies. A formal letter was sent threatening foreclosure.

The couple then filed a federal suit, saying that not only was the whole premise of the collection erroneous, but that the bank had misrepresented itself, made false allegations that Bridge had committed some sort of crime and continuing to call after it had been requested that they stop.

While the lower court initially rejected this complaint, the appellate court rightly sided with the plaintiffs.

You absolutely have rights when it comes to situations like this, but it's imperative that you contact an experienced attorney like Vincent Howard who can help you navigate the shark-infested waters.

Orange County Bankruptcy Attorney Vincent Howard at HOWARD LAW can help. You can reach us toll-free at 1-800-872-5925 or send us a message online.

Additional Resources:
Bridge v. Ocwen Fed. Bank, FSB

More Blog Entries:
Eleventh Circuit Finds Law Firm Is Debt Collector Under FDCPA - Reese v. Ellis Painter Ratterree & Adams, May 10, 2012, Orange County Debt Settlement Attorney Blog