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Incorrect address holds up refund

In April, we took out a home equity loan, which was handled by a representative from New Horizons Title. At the time we secured the loan, a credit report showed outstanding balances from two creditors with whom we were in dispute. In both cases, the problems were addressed to the creditors and ignored. The creditors felt they could circumvent the problems by taking collection action. In both cases, the collection action stopped short of litigation because the charges were insubstantial and illegal. One was over seven years old and the other over three years old. In both cases, we were instructed by the responsible insurance company to not pay the charges because they were not deemed to be "patient responsible."

The loan representative told us that if checks were issued to pay off these two accounts, we could just return them. At closing, when the title representative presented the closing package, checks to these two creditors were present. We told him we had been instructed to return these checks, and after calling his office, he told us to mail them back to New Horizons.

On April 26, we mailed these two checks and a letter of explanation to the title company by certified mail. We never heard back, so when our first payment was due, we sent the check and a copy of the letter to the loan company by certified mail. Still no response.

When our second payment was due, we again sent off the payment, another copy of the original letter of explanation and a new letter. Nothing.

Once again, with the third payment, we sent the check and copies of both letters, by certified mail.

When the loan was finally assigned to a mortgage company, without any replies to our letters, we called customer service at the loan company. We spoke to a Joan who said she would get in touch with the title company and get back to us. Two weeks later we got a call that a check would be sent to us for $837, the amount in question. When we did not receive it by the end of October, we again contacted Joan. She called back to inform us that the title company had lost our folder, found it again and would send out the check.

We have still not received the check from the title company and would greatly appreciate any assistance you can offer to obtain this money-in-limbo. Mario Crociata

Response: Michael Fields, president of New Horizons Title in Longwood, said the two disbursements checks in question were issued in accordance with the terms of the loan. After receiving authorization from the lender to change the disbursements, a new check was cut and mailed to you. It was returned for "no mail receptacle."

Numerous unsuccessful attempts were made to contact you to get a correct address. Fields said it is regrettable that New Horizons never received a phone call from you, since it was diligently trying to resolve this disbursement from the escrow account. The check has been resent to the return address on your correspondence to Action.

Action solves problems and gets answers for you. If you have a question, or your own attempts to resolve a consumer complaint have failed, write Times Action, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731, or call your Action number, 893-8171, or, outside of Pinellas, (800) 333-7505, ext. 8171, to leave a recorded request.

Requests will be accepted only by mail or voice mail; calls cannot be returned. We will not be responsible for personal documents, so please send only photocopies. If your complaint concerns merchandise ordered by mail, we need copies of both sides of your canceled check.

We may require additional information or prefer to reply by mail; therefore, readers must provide a full mailing address, including ZIP code. Names of letter writers will not be omitted except in unusual circumstances. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.