Mel and Harriet (last names withheld) from Coconut Creek, Florida returned home after a trip up to New York and saw something alarming – their locks hadbeen changed, the power had been turned off, and items were missing. It turns out someone had broken into their house. But it wasn’t any common thief, as WPLG Local 10 News reports.
No random burglar had sneaked in - it was a bank via the company SafeGuard Properties. SafeGuard Properties, based in Ohio, is a business that, “inspects and maintains defaulted and foreclosed properties for mortgage servicers, lenders, and other financial institutions.” They arrived at Mel and Harriet’s home to take it back, believing it was in default. As it turned it out, it wasn’t in default. As Mel told WPLG, “We haven’t had a mortgage in 15 years.” So how did it happen? SafeGuard went to the wrong address.
Attorney Scott Sobol described SafeGuard’s actions as “legalized burglary,” and that “It should have been evident to that company that this was not an abandoned property.” Mel and Harriet their house smells musty because of the power being off, but that they’re mostly embarrassed at the thought of their neighbors thinking their home would be foreclosed after never having missed a bill in their lifetimes.
WPLG got a statement from SafeGuard:
"Safeguard has acknowledged the error and has been working with the homeowner to resolve it. Errors such as this are rare, and we are sorry when they occur."
SafeGuard has a lot of scrutiny these days, as The Huffington Post has reported, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan brought a case against the company late last year. It’s part of what The Huffington Post describes as part of a “wave of unflattering media coverage” of the foreclosure industry. SafeGuard, along with other smaller companies are being accused of unlawfully breaking into homes.
More info: WPLG