Bank of America’s tax letter misses its mark

Bank said payments for 1,100 homes were late — before due date

By Gordon Oliver, Columbian business editor

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Bank of America letter

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A letter sent to hundreds of Bank of America’s mortgage borrowers in Clark County contained news no one wants to hear: Your home could be foreclosed for nonpayment of property taxes.

The letter from a Bank of America affiliate was sent to about 1,100 Clark County homeowners who’d actually paid their taxes.

Homeowners were quick to take action. Clerks at the Clark County Treasurer’s office fielded hundreds of queries last week from worried homeowners, said Michelle Denman, the office’s tax service manager.

A Bank of America official acknowledged the mixup Monday, saying the bank had requested tax payment status reports on Bank of America mortgage-holders before the final payments were due. Many people do not pay taxes until close to the due date.

“We sincerely apologize to those customers who received the letter in error,” said Jumana Bauwens, spokesperson for Bank of America Home Loans.

Customers with questions about the letter can call 800-669-6607, she said.

The letters were sent by BAC Tax Services Corp. of Simi Valley, Calif., an affiliate of Bank of America. A copy of the single-page letter, provided to the county by one Bank of America customer, is dated Nov. 22. It warns of an “IMPORTANT MESSAGE ABOUT YOUR LOAN,” informing the property owner that, according to public records, their tax payments are delinquent.

The letter warns that a separate loan servicing firm has the authority to collect all taxes due, plus penalties, interest and/or fees, unless the property owner pays taxes within 30 days of the letter’s “Notice Date.” It states that the lender may exercise its right to “promptly begin foreclosure proceedings” if the loan is in default.

The letter offers a toll-free number for property owners to call if they are unable to pay the taxes. A final section, with additional website and phone contact information, falls under the heading “THANK YOU FOR YOUR BUSINESS.”