A woman in Tualatin, Ore., is breathing a sigh of relief after a three-year battle to prove Wells Fargo had wrongfully moved to foreclose on her home, saying she had missed mortgage payments.
A judge ruled Wednesday that Wells Fargo failed to prove she was actually behind in her payments, which Delores Dingman, 80, attributes to the bank's simple "accounting errors."
"I just praise God for it all because I kept praying so many times about this, because I knew I had made the payments, but their accounting errors made it hard," she said.
The judge heard six hours of testimony and then ruled to cancel the judicial foreclosure.
Dingman and her late husband moved into their four-bedroom home in 1967, 46 years ago.
After her husband, Leland, died in March 2008, Dingman took out a new mortgage with Wachovia while she paid off his medical bills, never missing a payment. Court records show she promised to pay $308,000 plus interest June 16, 2008.
The next year, after Wells Fargo's acquisition of Wachovia was completed in Jan. 2009, Dingman began receiving foreclosure notices. She believes the bank did not correctly process her payment since around October 2009.
But her bank records show her mortgage payments have been deposited by Wells Fargo. Despite efforts to clear up the mistake and paying more than $12,000 in attorney fees, her home went into judicial foreclosure.
She had been employed by the local Kmart since it opened 40 years ago but stopped working when the store closed last year.
She continued to pay her monthly mortgage amount of more than $2,300 while paying her attorney, Terry McLaughlin , to help her clear up the mistake.
"There is going to be more litigation," McLaughlin said, declining to comment further.
Wells Fargo said in a statement, "We are reviewing the court's decision and considering all of our options at this time."
Dingman said, "I'm very sorry to say I don't feel confident in their accounting whatsoever."
This is not the first time Wells Fargo has been involved in an error on a foreclosed home. The bank's contractors mistakenly cleared out the home of a retired couple twice in Twentynine Palms, Calif., after confusing it with a neighboring foreclosed home.
The bank previously said it worked with Dingman "since 2009 to identify options that would allow her to stay in the home."
Dingman said there has been no cooperation from the bank.
"Foreclosure is always the very last option we explore with any customer," Wells Fargo said November in a statement. "We feel foreclosure is bad for the customer, bad for their neighborhood, bad for their community and bad for us as the lender. Our goal is to keep our customers in their homes, have them pay off their loans, and own their homes outright. Given that there is active litigation around their loan we can't discuss the case in any more detail at this time."
In the past few years, her payments were considered missing even though she has checks that have Wells Fargo's stamp on the back after they have been deposited, Dingman said.
When Dingman visited a Wells Fargo Branch to try to clear up the matter, they were directed to talk to a representative over the phone, White said. That person said the bank could not discuss the matter with her because her home was in foreclosure.
In the spring of 2011, Dingman wrote a certified letter asking Wells Fargo to send her a payment history. She said the bank provided her with a payment in the fall of 2012.
According to court records, Wells Fargo says that Dingman's unpaid principal balance was $299,672.08.
- Banking & Budgeting