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Call Kurtis: Where’s My Property Tax Refund?

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It’s a thousand dollar mystery, and a case of really bad timing. Somehow a Lathrop family’s property taxes were paid twice. When they couldn’t get a refund, they called Kurtis Ming.

His lender paid the tax out of his impound account, then he refinanced and the second company paid it too. To make it even more confusing, there’s a third mortgage company involved and no one can seem to find the money.

After spending 16 years in his Lathrop home, John Palmer decided to refinance when interest rates were near record lows in March.

“About four days after we signed papers to get started on the refinance, we got a letter from Homeward, saying that they had transferred our mortgage to Ocwen,” said Palmer.

Try to stick with us here: Palmer’s first lender, Homeward was Acquired by Ocwen. Soon after that, Palmer refinanced to a new loan with Quicken.

But here’s the problem: the first company, Homeward already paid the $1,017 property tax payment. But after the refinance, Quicken paid it too.

“The title lady told us that both payments were there but theirs had gotten there, that Quicken’s had gotten there first and the other one would be returned to Homeward, that they couldn’t refund it to me directly,” said Palmer.

He got the money left in his escrow account, but not the double tax payment.

“I spent three and a half hours on the phone, talking with Ocwen employees and nobody knew anything,” said Palmer.

We learned mortgage companies have a time limit to clear out your escrow account when you leave.

“Once your escrow account is closed, your mortgage servicer or your bank has the responsibility to issue you the funds left in that account within a 30-day time period,” said Beth Mills of the California Bankers Association.

Mills says if you’re having trouble getting money due to you from a lender, you can complain to the newly created Department of Business Oversight, which oversees mortgage finance companies. Or federally, to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

CBS13 contacted Ocwen and within a week Palmer got his refund check. The company issued the following statement:

“In short, the refund was the result of the loan transfer (from Homeward to Ocwen) occurring at the same time as the payoff. At no time was the money lost, but the timing resulted in the delay in the refund. Thanks again for bringing this to our attention and we’re pleased that the customer is happy with the resolution.”

-Richard Gillespie
Ocwen Financial Corp.

Palmer doesn’t know why he had such a hard time getting answers from Ocwen, he’s just happy to get the money back in his pocket.

“I think we’re just going to put it in the savings account,” he said.

If you have a complaint about your mortgage company, here are the agencies that will take your complaints:
California Department of Business Oversight
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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