Many homeowners have taken advantage of SEIU’s Where’s the Note website. It helps you generate letters to your bank to ask for evidence that they hold the mortgage note, or the IOU on the property. Bank servicers have routinely lost the note or never fully had it in their possession through the multiple trades and securitizations, and as a result have fabricated documents when foreclosing on homeowners.

Under the law, all homeowners have the right to see their notes. But if you visit Where’s the Note today, you can see a warning at the top which reads:

Update: Homeowners are sending us reports of banks responding with threats and intimidation. It is your legal right to demand to see your original, signed mortgage note. It is illegal for banks to negatively report to your credit file during the 60 day period after requesting your note simply because you made a request to see it. If you received a response that you feel is threatening or intimidating in nature, contact your state’s Attorney General and push them to hold the banks accountable under the law: http://action.seiu.org/page/s/intimidation

So what’s this about? Apparently, several banks, in particular Bank of America, have added negative reports to the credit files of borrowers who ask for their notes. Barry Ritholtz has an example of this at his site:

“FYI Just to let you know I ended up doing Where’s the Note and it resulted in this for me, see the 2 reported disputes in the attached screenshots below for my Jumbo 1st mortgage. 40 point hit on my scores. I will be speaking with an attorney soon. We need to get a warning out (SEIU has not responded).”

You can see the credit history below, the guy never missed a payment, and yet Experian and Trans Union have knocked down his credit score.

Ash Bennington at CNBC is right that this is only a single source, but enough complaints have come in to SEIU that they set up a whole separate part of Where’s the Note to field them, and have a big warning atop their site. SEIU says that this is mostly coming from Bank of America, though a couple have come in from Wells Fargo.

And Mike Konczal adds that this is part of a broader trend, where the servicers and big banks, having been exposed by the foreclosure fraud crisis, are now lashing out at their critics. They sue the foreclosure defense lawyers and activists merely for shining a light on them. They knock the credit scores of anyone who even asks for their note, which is basically a copy of the contract a homeowner thought he signed. The goal is silence and intimidation.

…what you see in the credit reporting statement is “account information disputed by consumer.” The Fair Credit Reporting Act holds that the dispute should be removed from the account within 30 days. But the individual who reached out to Ritholtz also said that his scores were taken down by 40 points.