Mortgage group accused of not protecting personal info

May 13, 2010 8:45:59 PM PDT
A group that helps homeowners renegotiate mortgages is being investigated for allegedly not protecting personal information.

Thousands of people turned out Thursday to get aid from the non-profit group NACA.

It may be a long wait, but if you are someone like Reginald Bulger, it is worth it.

"They lowered my interest rate from 8.2 to 4.5 [percent]," said Bulger.

For the second year in a row, thousands of Chicago-area residents are coming to a 5-day free mortgage modification event sponsored by the NACA non-profit advocacy group. The organization is funded in part by the federal government.

NACA acts as the middle man between the homeowner and the banks.

"What you have here is you have the NACA counselors - we have over 450 counselors who will work with the homeowner to determine an affordable mortgage payment based on the borrower's budget," said Bruce Marks, the CEO and founder of NACA.

Homeowners are then sent to an on-site lender with the hope of modifying their mortgage and saving their homes from foreclosure. The process includes providing the NACA counselor with very personal financial information, including social security numbers, bank statements and tax returns. All of the information is scanned into their system.

"It is a paperless system, meaning that when you give your pay stub, we give it back to you," said Marks.

NACA employees, however, claim the system at NACA's call center in Charlotte, North Carolina is not paperless.

Workers say that a video they recorded shows documents in a garbage can. NACA is now under investigation by the North Carolina Attorney General's office for improperly disposing of documents with homeowners' personal information.

Former NACA employee Lakeshia Trowell says documents were not shredded, and that some were even used as scratch paper. Trowell says she raised her concerns to a supervisor.

"It's a breach of secruity," said Trowell. "This is people's personal information, and they're using it as recycled paper - are you serious? He was like, 'Hey, it's the NACA way.'"

Marks says that is not the "NACA way." He calls Trowell a disgruntled employee.

Trowell was fired a few weeks ago. Marks says the video of documents in the garbage was a set up.

"There has never been an issue of anybody losing and having their personal confidential information disclosed - never," said Marks.

NACA employees have told the ABC affiliate in Charlotte that NACA does not have a written or verbal policy about shredding sensitive documents.

Marks says that is not true. He says NACA has a very strict policy concerning the disposal of people's financial information.

Marks says what is important is that NACA has helped thousands of people modify their mortgages, including many in Chicago.


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