Summary: A reader has a new mortgage that has already been sold to a company with a terrible reputation. Ilyce explains what steps she should take to protect her money and credit rating.

Q: I wrote to you several months ago about getting a mortgage. Your advice was very helpful.

But now I have a new problem. I wanted to let you know that my mortgage was sold to a company which has a horrendous reputation for fraud, including illegal foreclosure on homes.

I have been researching the company and found that most of the company’s dirty deeds were done under a previous company name. They have had so many complaints, including a class action lawsuit in which they had to pay out millions, that they opted to close down that company and do business under a new name.

One thing I am doing is keeping a close eye on my payments.

The company has already claimed not to have received my first 2 payments of over $1,000 each. There is a grace period of 60 days, since the payments were sent to my previous lender.

I’m unsure what I should do in this situation. How best should I deal with this situation? Should I hire an attorney to keep tabs on this loan servicer? Is there any way to get rid of them?

A: I’m so sorry that after you’ve overcome some personal obstacles and found that your loan has been sold to a company with a less than stellar history. Hopefully, this company has changed its stripes and is now going to be a better business partner – but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting.

There is no way, unfortunately, to change loan service companies unless you refinance your mortgage. But keeping a close watch on this company is crucial.

First things first: you might want to follow up with the new servicer on your loan to see if they have posted your payments. If they have, you will need to make sure you send your payments in on time and keep a copy of each and every cancelled check you ever send them. You might even want to keep a log of when you send each monthly check and when they cash them. That kind of information might be useful in the future.

Have your checks been cashed? Can you tell from the checks whether your old loan servicer cashed them or the new one? Call your bank or better yet, set up an online account so you can see if they’ve cashed them. If they have been cashed and the new servicer continues to claim that you have not paid and demands that you make the payments, you might want to have an attorney write a strong letter to the company’s president or senior vice president of customer service. That will also put the company notice that you’re watching them and that you have proof that the checks were cashed by either them or the company that used to handle your loan.

You might also want to contact the state agency that regulates mortgage lenders and mortgage servicers in your state and ask them if there have been any new complaints about this company. Talk to them about your “missing” checks and see if they have any advice for you about dealing with this company.

If there have been complaints, you should contact your state’s Attorney General’s office to file a complaint and ask them to look into the company’s conduct.

What you’re protecting is your credit and your cash. And those are important enough to take a few proactive steps.

NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate, PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted, resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.