St. Louis, Mo., May 8, 2012 – A Utah company charged homeowners hundreds of dollars each for “risk free” mortgage audits, then either delayed their promised refunds for months or never paid them at all, customers told the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Consumers from Missouri, Illinois and several other states also said AMT Auditing Services of American Fork, Utah, added unauthorized charges to their charge cards and/or forced them to deal with long, frustrating delays when the homeowners tried to contact customer service representatives to resolve their issues.
“They did nothing at all, other than take my money,” said a woman from St. Charles, Mo., who said she lost $300 to the company.
AMT Auditing Services has an “F” grade with the BBB, the lowest grade possible, with complaints and reports from 25 states. The BBB in Salt Lake City identifies Colton Moody as manager of the company. CRM Ventures LP, Enlightened, LLC, and Mortgage Auditing Program are alternative business names.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said that consumers should be cautious when solicited by AMT or other businesses seeking advance fees for mortgage audits.
Corey said the number and pattern of complaints involving AMT indicates “a significant and ongoing problem with the way this company handles its business. There remain continuing concerns over the value of mortgage audits. And there certainly is no acceptable excuse for a business that seems to chronically ignore its own customers.”
Several Missouri and Illinois homeowners said they received mailings from AMT similar to one sent to a Wisconsin consumer in March. That mailing said: “This notice is to inform you that you may be owed a refund of several thousand dollars from your mortgage lender. Your monthly mortgage payment may have been miscalculated and you may be due a refund from either your current or previous mortgage lender.” The letter says that the average refund is $1,497 and one-third of the refunds are $3,000 to $7,500.” In fine print at the bottom, the letter says it is not a mortgage modification offer, a forensic mortgage audit offer nor an offer to prevent foreclosure.
In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission warned consumers: “So-called forensic loan auditors, mortgage loan auditors, or foreclosure prevention auditors backed by forensic attorneys offer to review your mortgage loan documents to determine whether your lender complied with state and federal mortgage lending laws. The ‘auditors’ say you can use the audit report to avoid foreclosure, accelerate the loan modification process, reduce your loan principal, or even cancel your loan. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
On its website, www.amtdivision.org, AMT offers a mortgage audit at a sale price of $299. The site says AMT will determine whether a consumer has been overcharged and then notify the homeowner so he or she can obtain refunds from the lender.
Some customers who filed complaints with the BBB said that AMT took months to complete audits that it promised to complete in a few weeks. They also said the company delayed or reneged on promises of full refunds if the audit uncovered no overcharges.
The St. Charles woman said she paid AMT $199 in late October for a mortgage audit, then discovered unauthorized credit card charges to AMT of $49.95 in November and again in December. After receiving nothing from the company for two months, she finally gave up and filed a complaint with the BBB. Six months after making that first payment, she said she has yet to receive either a report from the company or a refund.
A man from Mascoutah, Ill., said he finally received a refund of his $249 payment more than four months after first hiring AMT and then only after filing a complaint with the BBB. “I’m no kid,” he said. “I should know better.”
A suburban Chicago homeowner said he paid $249 for an audit in November. The company promised a report in eight weeks. When no overcharges were discovered, he began trying to get the refund the business had guaranteed. He said it was not until he filed a complaint with the BBB and threatened to get attorneys involved that AMT refunded $199 of his payment in late March or early April.
“It was a very bad experience,” he said.
The company did not respond to a request for information from the BBB.
The BBB and the FTC discourage consumers from making advance payments for outside mortgage audits. Check BBB Business Reviews of companies at www.bbb.org or by calling 800-552-4631. The FTC also suggests getting free advice from housing counseling agencies certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by calling 1-888-995-HOPE.