From the article:
Lawyers for troubled Staten Island homeowners say they are beginning to see examples of clients who go to the bank to take out money and find that their accounts have been frozen or wiped out by other banks or debt collectors -- the entities holding second mortgages on houses already in default on the first and primary mortgage. Some are learning the lender or debt collector has already gone to court and secured a judgment to garnish paychecks.
It's a move more in line with the traditional debt collection industry, which typically targets credit card debt, and it's dragging the house and what little cash reserves people often have into the foreclosure battleground. Experts say it's an end-run by second lien holders around the traditional foreclosure process, which involves only the first mortgage holder and provides important legal protections for the homeowner.
"It's a fast and dirty process," Margaret Becker, lead attorney with the Homeowner Defense Project of Staten Island Legal Services in St. George, said of the new trend.
So far, she said, she's taken on two cases and she's heard similar stories from other attorneys.
In several emerging tales, homeowners say they learned about the garnishments only after their bank accounts dropped into the negative or paychecks diminished. And that is making it even more difficult for people to pay bills and modify the terms of the first mortgage to save homes from foreclosure. Homeowners being targeted often include the most troubled, or people who are behind on payments and whose homes are worth less than what is owed on the house.
"It just takes their money away so they don't have any money to afford a (loan) modification," Ms. Becker said of those who have been hit with judgments from second lien holders.
She is representing an Arden Heights woman who was talking to her bank about modifying the loan on her first mortgage. Then a debt collector, which bought the second mortgage on the house, won a judgment to garnish 10 percent of the woman's paycheck. That has jeopardized a good shot at a loan modification, said Ms. Becker.
Read the rest of the Advance article at SILive.com.