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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Privacy Concerns Would not Prevent Bank of America from Talking About Bank Policy

Privacy Concerns Would not Prevent Bank of America from Talking About Bank Policy

Friday, 22 February 2013 05:48

A NYT article reporting on the fact that banks are proving much more willing to forgive debt on second mortgages than first mortgages highlighted the case of Danette Rivera, a 38-year-old single mother, who had $115,000 of second mortgage debt forgiven and is facing foreclosure by Bank of America over unpaid debt on a first mortgage. The piece told readers:

"The bank, citing customer privacy concerns, declined to comment."

It would have been helpful to remind readers that Bank of America has no privacy concerns in discussing its general policy on debt forgiveness. While the bank should rightly have refused to discuss the specifics of Ms. Rivera's case, it certainly could have discussed its normal practice in dealing with underwater homeowners in cases where they hold both the first and second mortgage. (It's not clear whether that was the case in this situation.)

Comments (5)Add Comment
written by PeonInChief, February 22, 2013 11:15
First, BofA holds both the first and second on Ms. Rivera's house--which is why they can write off the second. BofA can then foreclose on the first, and take credit for an alleged mortgage modification. It's just another example of the way in which various government agencies claim to be helping homeowners, but are really providing cover to the banks.
The rules are secret and the chalk lines on the field have been washed away
written by Lex, February 22, 2013 11:31
Of COURSE Bank of America refused to discuss its policy. We have a government that thinks that not only are its extrajudicial assassinations of U.S. citizens supposed to be secret, the LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL JUSTIFICATION, IF ANY, for those assassinations, ALSO should be secret.

I can't decide whether this is Calvinball or worse than Calvinball. But either way, it ain't good.
written by urban legend, February 22, 2013 2:43
Institutions grossly abuse these assertions of privacy rights. The institution itself has no privacy right, it is the person. Would Ms Rivera have been willing to waive her privacy right on this particular matter? Reporters should not quit just because a company or public agency waves the scary "privacy rights" flag.
Great Catch, Again!
written by James, February 23, 2013 12:49
Dean caught the nuance here in that BOA doesn't have to disclose any consumer's payment history but can easily disclose BOA's own policy in writing down 1st & 2nd mortgages.

Quite often, you see companies readily announce their so-called polices on TV when the disclousre serve their purpose. In fact, they often tout their wonderful policies.

Meanwhile, when their policies hurt consumers, then they moved onto we cannot comment on that due to "privacy" law.
You Wouldn't Understand
written by FoonTheElder, February 25, 2013 12:56
It would take too long for them to explain the intentionally ineffective programs that were publicized as a help to the average mortgage holder, but ended up being just another money grab for big banks.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.