I have had two different loan modification trial payments with my lender, and I have paid as expected. But when it comes to making it permanent, there is always some silly reason why they can't. Who can I write to for help?

Very few people are getting permanent loan modifications. In fact, of the millions of people who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments, or are making them under severe financial stress, just 87,000 were given a permanent loan modification in March, according to data recently released by HOPE for Homeowners, a nonprofit association that assists homeowners in applying for loan modifications.

Over the past few months, it's become clear that fewer people are applying for loan modifications. Some economists claim that this is because the economy is improving and people have found jobs that are helping pay the mortgage.

As the economy moves further into a weak recovery, that's probably true. But some believe that word has gotten around about how few homeowners have received permanent loan modifications, and how frustrating the process is, so many have stopped trying to get one.

The biggest problem is that lenders were not required to help homeowners during the worst downturn since the great depression. The program was entirely voluntary.

Worse, loan servicers and investors' financial interests were not necessarily aligned. Throw in some really mediocre customer service from the big banks with thousands of lost documents and you begin to get an idea of why silly reasons derail legitimate loan modification applications.

The simple, if unwelcome, truth is that not every homeowner is entitled to a loan modification. Some might argue that no one is entitled to a loan modification and the loan modification is totally at the discretion of the lender. However, if you feel you have been unfairly denied, you can file a complaint with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which regulates the big banks, at HelpWithMyBank.gov.

Ilyce R. Glink's latest book is "Buy, Close, Move In!" Distributed by Tribune Media Services.

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