Bank of America: Broken promises?
When Contact 13 first held Bank of America's feet to the fire for failing to help Nevadans save their homes, the bank promised change.
That was back in May.
Since then, they've set up a hotline and opened three resource centers.
Now, months later, homeowners tell Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears they've gotten little more than lip service.
Bank of America says they've called in the cavalry.
"I think B of A would like their clients to believe that they're being a responsible corporate citizen," says Christine Miller of the Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada.
Bank of America says they've given real help to thousands of Nevada homeowners.
"We can't get anything started," says Joanne Licko, who's trying to help her brother save his home from foreclosure.
And Bank of America says they're continuing to improve.
"I think it's lip service," says struggling homeowner Robin Bolender. "I think that they really don't care about people or customers or helping people keep their homes."
Robin and Steve Bolender's original Countrywide sub-prime loan is all the stuff bad loans are made of.
They've paid $100,000 in interest only and have no equity in their home.
"Finally one day I just got so fed up with it that I wrote you and I wrote the senators: Sen. Ensign and Sen. Reid, I wrote the Governor, I wrote the White House, I wrote everybody that I could think of... the Attorney General... just anybody that I thought might be able to help us," says Robin.
They made a power point presentation.
They tried B of A's resource center.
They went to a foreclosure prevention clinic B of A held along with Senator Reid.
"I wanted them to see that I was a real person and not a number or a bottom line piece of paper that can be discarded. I wanted them to know that I was a real person with a home and a family and that they were gonna take away my life," Robin says, fighting her emotion.
She and Steve say the journey toward real help has been a rocky road.
"First of all," Steve recalls, "we had to get their attention by being in default. So we got their attention and they said now you gotta get current to get the loan mod."
What the Bolenders really wanted was a principal reduction because they're so far underwater with the value of their home.
"They said that we don't fall into the category for a principal reduction--that there was no way we could get that," Robin explains.
In a written statement, B of A told Contact 13 that "being underwater on your mortgage is not considered a financial hardship under government and investor guidelines."
They also say this year they've "extended more than 1,100 principal reduction offers to customers who are facing financial hardship in Nevada."
Legal Aid Center of Southern Nevada has hundreds of Bank of America customers trying every avenue to save their homes.
"How frequently are you seeing people actually get their principal reduced?" asked Contact 13 Chief Investigator Darcy Spears.
"That is a good question and most people ask us this question--will they be offered a principal reduction? And sadly the answer is we are not seeing that at all," Miller answered.
When some form of help is offered, she says it's often a band-aid when B of A needs to be doing major surgery.
"In the long run the borrower is paying a lot of money and I don't know that they will ever truly be a homeowner."
Robert Gratzke is trying desperately to hang on to his home.
"It's hard. It's hard watching him," says his sister, JoAnne Licko, fighting back tears. "It's um... he doesn't know what to do. He's got three kids."
The former union carpenter had to take a job as a long-haul trucker when the construction industry collapsed.
"He took a huge cut in pay when he finally went back to work."
Since he's almost always on the road, JoAnne has been dealing with B of A on his behalf.
"And them saying that they're doing more, that they've dedicated more resources to help Nevadans?" Spears asked Licko.
"That resource center I talked to was as useless as they come. That's not nice to say, but..."
At this point, she says there's no time left to be nice.
In the space of 24 hours, Robert Gratzke got two letters from B of A.
One told him his property is about to be foreclosed and he'll probably need to move out in 60-90 days.
The other said the account had not been referred to the Foreclosure Department.
His case is now under investigation by the State Attorney General.
"What message do you believe they're sending based on the experience that you personally and your family has had?" Spears asked.
"I don't understand," Licko said. "They got the bailout. Why aren't they helping the people?"
B of A wrote to Contact 13 to say "Managing a home foreclosure is a wrenching situation for our customers and complicated for everyone involved."
They say they're "reviewing Bob's loan for a Making Home Affordable modification."
But Christine Miller says the final loan mod offers they're seeing at the Legal Aid Center are...
"Not a good solution in that it doesn't really make good financial sense."
It may make sense for the bank, but not, she says, for the homeowners.
"So while they're saying they're helping, your message would be 'put your money where your mouth is?'" Spears asked Licko.
In the emails you send us almost daily, you say the resource centers haven't resolved anything.
You still get a different answer every time you call B of A.
And you still have to repeatedly send in the same paperwork.
The Legal Aid Center says the bank's got too much housekeeping to do and until they clean up their house, they won't really be able to help customers save theirs.
Bank of America says for the five months from May through September, they completed 2,800 modifications for Nevada customers who visited the resource centers, met with them at an event or called the hotline.
Click here to read Bank of America's statement on their home retention efforts and customer issues in Nevada. For additional help or information, call Bank of America at 877-345-6416.
Channel 13 works to bring you information that helps keep your family safe from scams and rip-off artists. If you have any story ideas, please email them to 13Investigates@KTNV.com or call 702-257-8440.