Realty Check

A Curious Letter to a Current Mortgage Customer

Woman doing bills
Todd Warnock | Lifesize | Getty Images

A borrower in Michigan recently received a letter from his mortgage servicer, CitiMortgage . It offers to discuss foreclosure alternatives, including potential eligibility for the government's mortgage bailout program. It is clear, succinct, and gives several phone numbers and contact information. The letter includes the borrower's name, address, and mortgage loan number. It seems quite reasonable...except that the borrower tells me he isn't and hasn't been late on any payments.

"I called them and they stated they sent this letter out to all mortgage clients," the borrower tells me in an email. "I am one of these clients and have had no issues with my mortgage, and they get my direct payment on time every month."

He says that when he called Citi, the operator said it was a, "blanket letter and basically junk mail."

I called Citi to verify the letter, which arrived in an envelope with a Citi logo.

Obviously lenders/servicers have been sending letters to troubled borrowers, offering assistance to avoid foreclosure, but a blanket letter to all borrowers seems a bit much. There have also been a lot of scammers using fake bank logos.

A Citi spokesman says, "I don't believe it went out to all customers. We are not getting reports from our call centers that they are getting any significant number of calls on this. It is likely a coding error that affected some accounts."

If the letter had gone out to all Citi customers, most of those customers would have called in, fearing there was a mistake and that their properties were being foreclosed improperly. That didn't happen, so perhaps this one borrower did just get it in error. What's so interesting/telling, though, is that the operator at Citi who answered the borrower's call referred to the letter as "junk mail," as if it makes sense that a mortgage servicer would send out a blanket foreclosure help letter to every one of its customers. Perception versus reality, I suppose.

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