LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Zombie mortgages: are they as terrifying as they sound? They could be.
Last month, Eyewitness News shared the story of Carson resident Adaina Brown. Her dream home is turning into a nightmare.
"It kind of just broke my heart," she said last month. "I told my husband, 'I can't take another thing.'"
When she and her husband bought the house in 2007, they needed a first and second mortgage. She said after property values plummeted, one of her lenders eventually charged off the second loan. She received a letter stating she was not responsible for the debt.
"'This debt has been charged off. You are no longer liable for this debt,'" Brown said as she recalled what was indicated in the letter.
But that's where it gets tricky.
Even if you are not responsible personally, a lien can still remain against the property. Another loan company now has that debt and says there is still an amount due of more than $139,000.
"The company that now owns that debt, whether it's a debt collector or a new loan company, is coming back after it because housing prices have risen and they're hoping to collect on that," explained Ali Hashemian, the President of Kinetic Financial.
After ABC7's report, the new loan company, Specialized Loan Servicing, or SLS, sent Eyewitness News at statement, saying in part "... There is a mortgage lien on the property that is intact and enforceable. A lien remains in place on the property in question until the debt is resolved through payment in full, an agreed settlement, or foreclosure."
It's like a horror story.Kinetic Financial President Ali Hashemian
Financial experts worry there are thousands of these so-called "zombie mortgages" handled by many different companies, and homeowners might not be aware of the consequences.
"It's like a horror story. They're coming back to haunt you from the dead," said Hashemian.
"[Homeowners are] no longer making the payments, and debt collectors are coming back looking for those payments, but it's not just payment, it's late fees, penalties, all this other stuff that adds up."
Financial experts say whether the lien is actually enforceable depends on state law and the type of lien filed.
Homeowners would need a real estate attorney to deal with all the legal issues.