Money Talks: How Countrywide Profited on Foreclosures

The banks have gotten a lot of bad press when it comes to foreclosures.

But as it turns out, robo-signing paperwork wasn't the only way large lenders contributed to the foreclosure fiasco.

According to a complaint filed by the FTC, the nation's largest lender, CountryWide, jacked up fees to make more on foreclosures.

Lucy Morris says, "The FTC alleges that CountryWide took advantage of homeowners who were trying to save their homes, by piling on unnecessary default fees, and mismanaging their loans and bankruptcy."

Here's how this works. You stop paying your mortgage, your lender's going to step in and they're going to protect their collateral, which is your house. They're going to do things like title searches, inspections - maybe even yard work.Then they're going to bill those services to you - the homeowner.

But rather than simply hire third-party vendors to perform the services, Countrywide created subsidiaries to hire those vendors. The subsidiaries marked up the price of the services charged by the vendors - often by 100% or more.

So CountryWide's subsidiary would pay a local guy, say $50 to cut the grass. They'd then double that to $100, send it to CountryWide, then CountryWide would bill the homeowner for that much.

CountryWide - now owned by Bank of America - neither admitted nor denied guilt - but they did agree to pay more than 100 million dollars to reimburse homeowners.

If you were a CountryWide customer during the affected period, you'll be getting notified of that and maybe even getting a check sometime soon. You don't have to do anything.

And if you think these types of shenanigans only affect homeowners, think again - they could even affect your 401(k) - The rest of the story at Money Talks