Alarming Letters Prompt Call to NBC 6 Responds

Article Courtesy of NBC 6 Miami Responds

By Alina Machado

Published September 26, 2016


Marlene and Trevor Johnson called NBC 6 Responds after getting a steady stream of letters offering services to help them with their home foreclosure. But they had paid everything on time and didn't understand why they were getting these letters.

Marlene and Trevor Johnson are soft-spoken and calm.

"We’re quiet people," Marlene says.

But the retired couple says the steady stream of foreclosure letters they’ve been getting is unnerving.

"It has been a living nightmare," Marlene says.

In November, the Johnsons started received a letter from an attorney offering to help them with the foreclosure of their home.

"They were soliciting business," Marlene says.

The letters kept coming from different firms. Marlene says they bought their condo back in 2000 and have always paid their mortgage and HOA dues.

"I make sure that my bills are paid on time," she adds.

Confused and unsure of what to do, Marlene called her lender, Bank of America, to see if her home was in foreclosure. She also checked with the HOA and even went to the county courthouse.

"Spoke to the supervisor and she said, 'I’m so sorry Mrs. Johnson, your name, your apartment is not on the foreclosure list,'" Marlene says she was told.

When she called some of the firms that sent her letters and asked questions about where they got the information indicating her home was being foreclosed, she received no real answers. That’s when she called NBC 6 Responds.

"Clear up the letters," she said. "I don’t want to see another letter."

It turns out unit 205 – just two doors down from the Johnsons – was in foreclosure last year. We found plenty of court records on that, but nothing showing Marlene’s home was being foreclosed. When we called some of the firms who sent letters, the lender information and owner name one of them gave us matched the details for the foreclosure on unit 205. They told us the information they got from RealtyTrac, a real estate data company, had Marlene’s husband’s name and their unit number associated with the foreclosure.

RealtyTrac looked into the situation for us and found an error, saying "it appears one of our data sources matched the wrong unit number to the Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) that we got from our foreclosure source (which just had APN and address but no unit number)."

They say they’ve fixed the mix-up – and let their source know about the problem – which means those letters the Johnsons have been getting, should finally stop.

If you’ve received similar letters, you should never ignore them.

Do a court records search, check with your lender and HOA if you have one to make sure there isn’t a problem.

If everything checks out, the issue could be with a real estate data company like RealtyTrac.

RealtyTrac tells us that errors in the data are very rare. The biggest complaints they get are that the property is no longer in foreclosure. Other issues involve that the property has been sold. They say they get the correct information eventually, but when people contact them ahead of time, they deactivate the listing.