Q: I have been sick for over one year and my income has drastically decreased. My life is in shambles. Car was repossessed, no cable, internet or home phone, gas and electric. I have shutoff notices, but I was eligible for programs to help me. Today I opened the mail and a letter from my bank where I have a 30K HELOC is telling me they have charged off the balance on my account of $30,788.88 and accelerated this balance. Now I owe it in full. I’ve been trying to work with them for the last 6 months and have gotten nowhere. They were sending me an application for a hardship assistance, but I NEVER got them. They said it was sent twice. My main concern is if they can foreclose on my mortgage and must I pay them in full? I’m not even working, I don’t have that kind of money laying around. I am frightened and don’t know what to do, please help me, I am really scared. (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: Get to a consumer law attorney immediately. If this home equity line of credit is a lien filed on your home, they certainly can foreclose. It is my hope that a civil complaint has not been filed against you and you failed to answer it and thereby a default judgment has been taken against you. If there is time to answer the complaint, an attorney can do that which will slow the process. The creditor cannot just foreclose without filing a lawsuit against you and obtaining a judgment in court. Normally, the creditor goes after the property and does not seek a judgment against you personally, for any deficiency between what the house resells for and what you owed on the contract. However, the contract would need to be reviewed in order to confirm this. Again, look for an attorney.