Citizens Bank: the bad house-guest who won’t leave

By | August 23, 2015

UPDATE: I was wrong.

Yesterday, when I was digging through my pending paperwork pile looking for another document, I came upon a file folder containing the mortgage discharge paperwork, which Citizens Bank did, in fact, send me. I put that folder in the pile to remind me to take it to the registry of deeds, and then I allowed it to get buried under other paperwork (mostly, years worth of artwork and schoolwork from the kids that I hope to some winnow down to a few items worth saving).

I still have quite a few legitimate beefs with Citizens Bank, but this was not one of them.

I suppose I could unpublish this blog posting, but that feels a bit like trying to hide my mistakes, so I don’t think so.

Below is my original complaint letter, which — let me emphasize — is simply not valid.

[address elided]

August 23, 2015

Citizens Bank
Consumer Loan Servicing
RJW 218
P.O. Box 42002
Providence, RI 02940-2002

To whom it may concern:

My wife and I paid off our Citizens Bank HELOC around August 2011. You never sent us the original note stamped PAID. You never sent us a discharge notice. You never recorded the discharge with the Suffolk Country registry of deeds.

Prior to that, we paid off our home equity loan on July 30, 2008; that is the date we sent the payment online, though I believe it was not processed until August 9. For this loan as well, you never sent us the original note or a discharge notice or recorded the discharge.

Now, we are trying to refinance the HELOC which replaced the one at Citizens Bank, and our new bank has informed us that we cannot do so because the discharges of the two Citizens Bank loans were never recorded.

While we should have noticed contemporaneously that you never sent us the required paperwork, the fact that we did not does not change the fact that you violated the law by failing to send them.

For the record, I would like to note the following:

  • Errors like this are what got this country into the huge mess of nobody being able to say with any degree of certainty who owns properties.
  • We left Citizens Bank after years of enduring your incompetence. We’re sorry to discover that, over four years later, your incompetence is still affecting our lives, like a bad house-guest who just won’t leave.

Please immediately sent us discharge notices for these loans, as well as the original notes stamped PAID. If it is going to take you some time to locate the original notes in your files, then please send us discharge notices immediately – since your records should be able to confirm the discharges even absent the original notes – and then send us the original notes when they are located.

Here is all the information we have about both loans:

The HELOC was dated October 29, 2004, and the amount of the line was [elided]. It was recorded in book [elided], page [elided]. Its account number was [elided]. As noted above, it was paid off around August 2011.

The loan was dated October 29, 2004, and the amount of the loan was [elided]. It was recorded in book [elided], page [elided]. Its account number was [elided]. As noted above, it was paid off in August 2008.

The property associated with both loans is the address above, i.e., [elided].

I look forward to your prompt response.


Jonathan Kamens

CC: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Massachusetts Division of Banks


August 24: I received a phone call from the Massachusetts Division of Banks. They let me know that since Citizens Bank is federally chartered, they aren’t regulated by the MA DOB, and I should send my complaint to either the CFPB (which I’d already done) or the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). I decided to wait a few days before submitting my complaint to the OCC.

August 25: I received a phone call at home from a woman in the office of the chairman of Citizens Bank, which my wife handled and took a name and phone number to give me. I called back that number and got a voicemail message informing me that someone would call back within two business days.

August 27: Citizens Bank called back. The woman informed me that she was calling in response to my complaint to the CFPB; that the discharges had been sent to me contemporaneously — a claim which I’m not at all surprised she made, but I nevertheless ardently disputed; and that in any case she had requested new discharges to be sent via FedEx and I should receive them today or tomorrow. And, indeed, they were sent via FedEx overnight and I received them today.

Now that the chairman’s office has resolved this issue in response to the CFPB complaint, I have no idea what, if anything, will happen in response to the complaint I mailed to Citizens Bank directly. Perhaps their right hand doesn’t know what their left hand is doing, and they’ll end up sending me two sets of the discharge paperwork. Frankly, I will not lose any sleep over this.

Moral of the story: banks take complaints sent to the CFPB seriously. #ThanksObama


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