FORT MYERS, Fla. - A local couple makes a Call for Action after battling two banks for six months over forced flood insurance. The problem? One bank forced flood insurance on their mortgage, despite proof that they were already covered! Then when the couple thought they were in the clear, their mortgage was sold and the second bank, threatened foreclosure!
Married for 47 years, Elsie and Jose Dacunti, retired educators from Michigan, had been enjoying Southwest Florida condo living for eight years. That is until nearly a year ago.
"September or July of last year, SunTrust who had been my carrier of my mortgage, sent me a letter telling me that my mortgage was going to go up from $579 to $995 because I needed flood insurance," Elsie told us.
She quickly faxed SunTrust proof that her homeowner's association insures everyone in the community, for flood.
Thinking she had fixed the problem, it surprised her when a few months later her mortgage payment was sent back. It was rejected because she had not paid enough. The Dacunti's were still being charged for the forced flood insurance.
"I faxed it [proof of insurance] in October, I faxed it in November, again," explained Elsie.
Despite her proof and pleading, her October, November and December payments were all sent back. Finally, she thought she saw a light at the end of the tunnel.
"December came and in December, I received the letter of certificate of cancellation of the flood insurance. They sent it to me and I said, 'OK, Jose, we are good. We are fine,' " Elsie recalled.
But they weren't. In December SunTrust sold the Dacunti's mortgage to another lender, Seterus. According to documents from Seterus, the Dacunti's still had to pay $995 a month to cover the forced flood insurance!
"So I said this cannot be. I cannot start with this again," Elsie told WINK.
And remember those payments to SunTrust that kept getting sent back? When the Dacunti's mortgage was sold to Seterus, they were technically behind in payments. Elsie says that's when the phone calls from debt collectors started.
"That you are behind in your mortgage, you have two or three months already and if this continues, it's going to be in foreclosure," said Elsie of the calls she was getting day and night. "I kept saying I don't need a foreclosure. I don't need a modified loan. I need to pay my mortgage. It is you-- you who are not accepting my mortgage"
Finally after hours and hours of phone calls, faxes, and filling out paperwork, Elsie started writing letters, including one to us at Call for Action, asking for help.
We contacted both SunTrust and Seterus immediately and within a few days, the Dacunti's finally got the call they had been waiting for: Seterus had figured out the problem!
"Everything should be right. Everything should be perfect and it's just because of you! Thank you," Elsie said. "... you just helped us over here because we were going through a nightmare and no one was paying attention."
The Dacunti's were able to send a check to Seterus for the last 6 months of mortgage that they were waiting to pay with no late fees or forced flood insurance added on, and it was accepted and cashed making them current on their payments.
"There was a tiny moment when I just told him [Jose], 'Let's just pay this money and go on with our lives' and he said no way," said Elsie.
We reached out to both SunTrust and Seterus for comments. While they assured us at the time they would look into the case, neither of the companies could comment because of confidential client relationships.