#AceFinanceNews – NEW YORK – October 14 – Many thousands of Americans who lost their homes in the housing bust, but have since begun to rebuild their finances, are suddenly facing a new foreclosure nightmare: debt collectors are chasing them down for the money they still owe by freezing their bank accounts, garnishing their wages and seizing their assets.
By now, banks have usually sold the houses.
But the proceeds of those sales were often not enough to cover the amount of the loan, plus penalties, legal bills and fees. The two big government-controlled housing finance companies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, as well as other mortgage players, are increasingly pressing borrowers to pay whatever they still owe on mortgages they defaulted on years ago.
Using a legal tool known as a “deficiency judgement,” lenders can ensure that borrowers are haunted by these zombie-like debts for years, and sometimes decades, to come.
Before the housing bubble, banks often refrained from seeking deficiency judgements, which were seen as costly and an invitation for bad publicity.
Some of the biggest banks still feel that way.
But the housing crisis saddled lenders with more than $1 trillion of foreclosed loans, leading to unprecedented losses.
Now, at least some large lenders want their money back, and they figure it’s the perfect time to pursue borrowers: many of those who went through foreclosure have gotten new jobs, paid off old debts and even, in some cases, bought new homes.