3 on Your Side: Man claims bad bank advice - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

3 on Your Side: Man claims bad bank advice

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Story by Megan Boatwright
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- The downward economy continues to have a major impact on people in the Tennessee Valley and North Georgia.

Last month, the unemployment rate in Tennessee held steady at 9.4%.

However, Georgia's rate jumped to 10.2%.

Economists say high unemployment is contributing to more foreclosures.

The American Community Survey reports Hamilton County has the highest monthly mortgage expenses, averaging at nearly $1200 per month.

Brandon Carter lost his job in December 2008 and called SunTrust to figure out what to do.

He decided to go delinquent and claims the bank gave him that advice.

This week, he called "3 On Your Side."

"I thought it sounded a little fishy, then I thought, "this is my bank," says Carter. "They hold my mortgage, why would they give me bad advice?"

Today Brandon Carter is on the verge of foreclosure, with his credit wrecked, he says, all thanks to bad advice from his bank and a flawed Obama loan modification program.

"You can't imagine the worry that's present when you think you're going to lose your home," says Carter.

In December of 2008, the sales manager was out of a job and soon fell two months behind on payments toward his Ringgold home.

Carter says he had savings in the market and IRAs he could have accessed to stay current, but his bank suggested an easier way out.

"At the time it made sense to not take the hit, you know, to get into my savings and have it modified," says Carter. "They made it sound that simple and in three months I could be back on track."

Approved for a temporary modification, the homeowner began making reduced payments. But 13 months later, with no permanent modification, SunTrust is now demanding $10,000 or else.

"It's completely voluntary on the part of the lenders," says Attorney Tom Bible. "If you apply for the HAMP Program and the lender says no, you really don't have much recourse."

Bankruptcy Attorney Tom Bible says Carter's scenario is all too common these days.

"Several times a week we see people come in, who say they were in a temporary modification program and now their lender won't give them a permanent modification," says Bible.

Bible says falling delinquent on your mortgage is never good advice, something Brandon Carter now wishes he hadn't done.

"I blame myself for not researching it further or asking someone else's advice like an attorney," says Carter.

Channel 3 contacted SunTrust twice about this story.

Each time they told Eyewitness News customer confidentiality kept them from saying too much.

However, because of our story, a corporate spokesperson now says the mortgage team is looking a little closer into Mr. Carter's situation.

We'll keep checking in to make sure that happens.

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