I was 54, looking through the real estate for sale on the internet when I came across the most beautiful home, right on my favourite stretch of river. Of course it was expensive but I had a good income and thought I would at least give it a go.

My way of thinking was that "If the bank doesn't think I can afford it then they won't give me the money."

WHAT WAS I THINKING??!!

I made an application through a broker who was upbeat about loans and approval was easy.  I left the broker's office thinking it was all an interesting exercise but I would never gain approval. 

How wrong was I!

They had to break the loan into four smaller loans, mortgaging the home and two rural properties I owned and I had to borrow another $130,000 privately (through someone the broker recommended) to use as a deposit for the two biggest loans. The two smaller loans were approved first, a month before the two larger loans were approved, (the day after the $130,000 private loan was approved for the deposit.) The $25,000 credit card was approved before everything else, even tho I didn't think I needed more credit card debt. I had two cards with another bank for a total of $27,500.

All I had to do to prove I had an income, was have my agent (I am an offshore contract day rate worker) write a letter on company letterhead stating my income including the fact that I had been in the industry 30 years and was a valued member of the industry. Somehow, another letter on company letterhead, now states that I work equal time on and off as a member of staff, or words to that effect. I've never worked as a staff member in any position working offshore, ever! My agent does not recall writing the second letter and has no record of having done so. I might add that my agent is a one man company registered in Jersey.

I would also add that I was not resident in Australia for twenty five years prior to making the loan application and had no tax obligation and no proof of income in Australia during that time.

When it came to accepting the loans, I trusted the broker to have done the right thing. I still think of her as such a lovely lady and a good person.  It was the bank who approved the loan not the broker.  She said she was helping me.

I accepted the loans and took possession of that beautiful home.

Five months later it was becoming obvious to me that I was unable to service the loans and I asked the bank for a few months without payments to give me time to find a way to pay. They gave me around seven months until I started receiving money from a mining venture and was able to continue paying off the loans. Trouble was that the interest kept on accruing whilst I wasn't paying and the value of the loans became more than they were at the start. No worries, the mining money paid the loans for two more years until the mining money ran out. No work offshore and I found myself in deep trouble. Altogether I managed to pay around $350,000 in interest payments over a period of four years before I had to admit I couldn't afford the loans.

 This is when a friend told me about BFCSA and I rang Denise Brailey.

Even though she was a very busy woman, she took the time to explain what I needed to look for to see if my loans were completely above board. She gave me the name of someone who would go through things with me until I found where I stood.

 Consequently, I rang the bank and asked for the faxed copy of my Loan Application Forms that had been sent by the broker to the bank. I was asked all sorts of questions as to why I wanted the info but I insisted and was finally sent some pages from my original Online Application Pack. Only three pages of what I thought was around about a twelve page document.

When I phoned and asked the bank's representative (name available) about further documentation, I was informed that “missing pages were INTERNAL and had PROBABLY BEEN DESTROYED after two years.”  She also stated “some of the documentation may not have been lodged online” and “She (the broker) did not send us anything through on that one, it happens all the time” as well as “she did that as a linked application and used the same documentation for all four loans” and finally, “it doesn’t include every single page of her original twenty eight pages, some of these were not imaged.” I expressed my surprise at these words and stated to her “so there is information out there that has probably been destroyed and I will never get to know about and you don’t have a copy of?” Her answer, “unfortunately, yes.”

 The main reason I decided to take action through BFCSA, was that I discovered in the documentation that I DID receive, monthly expenses that the bank was aware of, such as repayments on the three credit cards as well as the monthly repayments for the $130,000 loan for the deposit, had not been considered as monthly expenses. At least, I could find no proof they had been taken into consideration amongst the paperwork supplied to me by the bank and according to the bank’s representatives I had received ALL documentation in existence.

 I find it extremely hard to believe that shareholders in this bank would approve of the lending practices employed by this bank.  If I was a shareholder I would be extremely worried.  

Service calculator that helped exaggerate incomes? Had never heard of anything of that nature until joining BFCSA!  

Its the only collective group around and everyone seems to be having the same terrible experiences with our major banks.  Are the banks' filing systems in such a shambles that documents regularly disappear?  Does APRA and Treasury know this?  We all have to do something about this.  Seems we have a crooked banking system.  Without BFCSA I would never have realised.

If we lie to the bank we would be hauled off to jail