Q: I would like to know who a homeowner can talk to about a problem with his or her mortgage company.

My mortgage company will not give me credit for bringing my payments up to date and keep changing the total that is due. For example, I was two months behind in my payments, but I paid that plus the interest that the mortgage company said I owed.

Every time I get a bill, the mortgage company says I owe another 3 months of payments, when I’ve brought the mortgage current. Every time I send more money I’m told I’m making payments in arrears.

What can I do? The lender does not seem to want me to be current.

A: It sounds like your mortgage company is a predatory lender. Predatory lenders will often refuse to bring your account back up to date, even if you pay more than is owed. Instead, they tell you that you’re even later, and money just disappears instead of getting credited to your account.

Rather than continuing to pay them more and more, I suggest you call the attorney general in your state and ask them to launch an investigation into this lender. You should also contact the state agency that regulates mortgage lenders in your state and file a complaint. Talk to the agency about what has happened and ask if you are the victim of a predatory lender.

Then, let the lender know you have contacted the proper authorities about the case and will hire an attorney if the situation is not corrected immediately.

After everything is cleared up, you should try to find another lender and refinance your loan.

Please do this sooner rather than later. Victims of predatory lenders will often lose their home equity in these cases, and I’d hate to see that happen to you.

Thanks for writing and good luck.

Dec. 1, 2003.