A local soldier fights foreclosure issues

RALEIGH When she says she couldn't get answers from her mortgage company, she turned to Troubleshooter Diane Wilson.

There's a law that protects active-duty soldiers when it comes to their financial obligations. It's called The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This soldier needed it stationed in Iraq and wondering if she'd have a place to come home to.

Major Dianna Echard worked so hard for all these years in the military here and in faraway war zones. But when she got home to Raleigh, she couldn't get inside her home. The locks had been changed. Major Echard tells Troubleshooter Diane Wilson, "I've tried to pay. It's like I'm giving money away and no one is willing to take it." Even though she says she's always had the money to pay her mortgage.

Major Echard's problems started in 2007 when she was serving in Iraq. She says she wanted to make sure her bills got paid while she was overseas, so she tried to set up automatic bill pay. She adds, "I'm in Iraq thinking I did the right thing by making my automatic payments on line. I thought my worries were over." But those were the beginning of her worries because she soon learned that her mortgage company, GMAC, had started the foreclosure process on her home. Why? Those automatic payments monthly mortgage payments Major Echard thought were coming out of her account never happened. She called GMAC and says, "Then they realized I was on active duty and stopped foreclosure in February 2008."

Major Echard says she worked out a payoff of $3,000 to bring her account out of arrears. She even has this receipt for the $3,000. She says, "From Iraq, I called and talked to them and they said everything was fine they don't have a case on me." But a few months later while still serving in Iraq, Major Echard got more bad news. She adds, "I got another foreclosure notice on my door."

Within a few months of the second foreclosure notice, Major Echard return from her deployment and got the help of a military attorney. He was able to reverse the foreclosure process, since it was done improperly while she was in Iraq. But she still wasn't able to make payments to GMAC Mortgage. She says, "I haven't been able to make a payment. I tried to I have made attempts to." Instead she says she was referred to two different law firms who she says referred her right back to GMAC. She adds in frustrations, "I've been back since June now and coming up on 4 months pretty soon 5 months. I have not made a payment so I feel like they're going to get me in a trap that you're back from Iraq and we can start the foreclosure process now."

Major Echard contacted Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and she contacted GMAC Mortgage. Within days, they had good news for her. GMAC amended her credit and waived all late charges. They also adjusted her active-duty payments to be in-line with the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. Major Echard also got a direct contact to deal with to bring her account up to date. Best of all, she was mailed a key to her home.

GMAC also apologized to Major Echard and the deed to her home is in her name now. As for the $3,000 Major Echard paid to GMAC after the first foreclosure process, GMAC actually never cashed that check and instead it was returned to Major Echard.

If you want more information on the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, go to www.hud.gov or legalassistance.law.af.mil

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