Mortgage Payment Not Accepted

Dear Dr. Don,

I have a 30-year mortgage that has changed hands three times and is now held by a bank. The loan has a 15-year term and is past due. I am behind on the loan after some financial difficulties in recent years. But, I have made all monthly payments for the last 18 months -- maybe more.

The servicer sends these payments back and indicates they were late on my credit report. I have provided the bank with all of the original loan documents and asked it to give me additional documentation. But information has not been forthcoming. If given the opportunity, I will bring the loan up-to-date. I don't know what else to do. Please help.

Thank you,

-Tommie Troubles

Dear Tommie,

Having a past-due loan can put you in a bind. A mortgage servicer may not be required to accept any payments, depending on terms, until the loan is made current or a repayment plan is in place. Even if you have written the mortgage payment check 18 times, when the loan servicer has sent the checks back, you still haven't had a payment credited in more than a year and a half. While you didn't mention it, odds are the servicer has started the foreclosure process on your home.

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The only documents that count are those on record. Normally, a mortgage is recorded and you can get a copy from county court officials. You will need your property tax identification or other information to be able to have the county provide you with what you need. Public records such as liens may be accessible online.

Your first step should be to find out how you can make the loan current, or establish a repayment plan. Then, the firm should stop returning your mortgage payments. Your second step is to confirm the loan term. You might need an attorney, but getting recorded copies of your documents is important. Make sure there was not some kind of error. Many people don't read their loan documents carefully and don't know what they've signed.

A bankruptcy filing as a last resort can stall the foreclosure process. That's an option to discuss with a bankruptcy attorney if you can't get current on the note with the bank involved.

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