JACKSON - Back in 1997, Robin Baitz was victimized in one of New Jersey’s most notorious mortgage fraud cases, nicknamed the “House of Cards” by the Asbury Park Press. Incredibly, nearly two decades later, Baitz is still struggling to get fraudulent information stemming from that scam off his credit report. And his efforts were getting nowhere, until he contacted Kane In Your Corner.
The bogus information involves a defaulted mortgage for a home in Jersey City. “This was fraud from beginning to end,” Baitz says. “They forged my signature. They also forged a false income.”
Yet the information still showed up as recently as last week, on credit reports from two credit reporting agencies: Experian and Equifax. This despite the fact Baitz repeatedly challenged the information, even sending the credit bureaus a letter from the FBI, stating that his “signature on the mortgage loan application and various other loan documents had been forged.”
Baitz says the false information has dramatically impacted his life. “Every time I try to get a loan, whether small or big, it's on my credit report,” Baitz says. “I had banks either deny me or, those who actually do offer me loans, it's always a higher interest rate.”
Even if Baitz’ debt was legitimate, which it wasn’t, the information should have expired from his credit reports long ago. Creditors and credit reporting agencies are only permitted to report negative information for seven years. Baitz has been fighting to clear his credit report for 17.
What’s more, documents obtained by Kane In Your Corner show that the date the credit agencies said the bogus information would expire from the credit report kept inexplicably getting postponed. While one credit report shows the information would cease being reported in 2012, later reports push the date back to 2017, then 2021.
There is finally some good news for Robin Baitz. Since Kane In Your Corner began investigating, the mortgage company and credit agencies have promised to correct the issue. But why it lingered for so long, in defiance of federal credit reporting laws, remains a mystery.
Kelsey Stagner, a spokesperson for Experian, says its “customer care team was able to resolve (Baitz’) problem and remove the record of the loan,” but did not address why the bad loan had not been removed years earlier, or why the expiration date for it to be reported kept getting pushed back.
Experian still provided more information than the other credit agency involved, Equifax, which did not answer any of Kane In Your Corner’s questions.
As for the mortgage company, the situation is complicated. For 13 years, the loan was handled by Liton Loan Servicing, but that company was purchased by Ocwen Loan Servicing in 2011. Ocwen spokesman John Lovallo says Baitz first contacted Ocwen about the misinformation in 2012, and insists the company did its part.
“Mr. Baitz’ initial request to correct his file was immediately researched by Ocwen and addressed with the credit bureaus,” Lovallo says, adding, “It was over three years later, on December 4, 2015, that we were informed by Mr. Baitz that the credit bureaus were not reflecting the correct information.” He says Ocwen has now sent a new request to the credit bureaus to remove the loan, and will follow up to ensure it happens.
Even if the full story of Baitz’ 17-year ordeal may never be known, he’s just glad it’s finally over.