Home > News > How a Church Tried to Evict a Woman From Her Home

Comments 0 Comments
Advertiser Disclosure


One doesn’t usually think of a church as the sort of organization that would work to kick a woman out of her home, but that’s what happened to a woman in Springfield, N.J. Donna Maxwell has lived in a trailer there for 28 years, but she hasn’t paid the taxes on it in a few years, so there’s a tax lien against the property.

Here’s where the church comes in: FS Properties 194, a company created by Fountain of Life Christian Church of Florence, N.J., bought Maxwell’s lien as part of its investment strategy, according to the Times of Trenton. Fountain of Life foreclosed on the property, on which Maxwell owes more than $50,000 in back taxes (the annual tax on her property is about $2,400), and sent Maxwell a notice that the county sheriff would arrive at her home to remove her from the property on April 22. Maxwell told the Times of Trenton the church is working with her on a plan to help her stay, and she believes she will not be evicted on that date.

One of the church’s companies, Mercer SME Inc., was the subject of a class-action lawsuit brought by homeowners alleging Fountain of Life bought tax sale certificates and sold them to what the lawsuit called “shell companies” (a term the church disputes) like Mercer SME to disguise the church’s involvement, the Times of Trenton reported. SME Mercer pleaded guilty to violating anti-trust law, and it settled the class action suit for $250,000.

The church reportedly stopped buying tax liens and tax sale certificates as part of its investment portfolio in 2012, and in a March 1 letter to its congregation obtained by the Times of Trenton, the church apologized and said it should never have been involved in such practices.

“Several years ago, the Fountain of Life Church began the process of divesting itself from its tax lien portfolio,” Steve Spadaro, a member of the church’s Board of Elders, said in a statement to the Times of Trenton.

The frequent buying and selling of debt can make the issue very confusing for a consumer. Whenever a person or company claims you have a debt, ask for verification of that debt in writing — that’s one of your many consumer rights in the debt collection process. Things like collection accounts, tax liens and judgments have a seriously negative impact on your credit standing for many years, so while they may be confusing and difficult to address, it’s important that you don’t ignore them. You can get a free credit report summary at Credit.com to see if any of these negative items are affecting your credit. You can also get free annual credit reports under federal law at AnnualCreditReport.com.

More on Income Tax:

Image: iStock

Comments on articles and responses to those comments are not provided or commissioned by a bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by a bank advertiser. It is not a bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Please note that our comments are moderated, so it may take a little time before you see them on the page. Thanks for your patience.

Credit.com receives compensation for the financial products and services advertised on this site if our users apply for and sign up for any of them.

Hello, Reader!

Thanks for checking out Credit.com. We hope you find the site and the journalism we produce useful. We wanted to take some time to tell you a bit about ourselves.

Our People

The Credit.com editorial team is staffed by a team of editors and reporters, each with many years of financial reporting experience. We’ve worked for places like the New York Times, American Banker, Frontline, TheStreet.com, Business Insider, ABC News, NBC News, CNBC and many others. We also employ a few freelancers and more than 50 contributors (these are typically subject matter experts from the worlds of finance, academia, politics, business and elsewhere).

Our Reporting

We take great pains to ensure that the articles, video and graphics you see on Credit.com are thoroughly reported and fact-checked. Each story is read by two separate editors, and we adhere to the highest editorial standards. We’re not perfect, however, and if you see something that you think is wrong, please email us at editorial team [at] credit [dot] com,

The Credit.com editorial team is committed to providing our readers and viewers with sound, well-reported and understandable information designed to inform and empower. We won’t tell you what to do. We will, however, do our best to explain the consequences of various actions, thereby arming you with the information you need to make decisions that are in your best interests. We also write about things relating to money and finance we think are interesting and want to share.

In addition to appearing on Credit.com, our articles are syndicated to dozens of other news sites. We have more than 100 partners, including MSN, ABC News, CBS News, Yahoo, Marketwatch, Scripps, Money Magazine and many others. This network operates similarly to the Associated Press or Reuters, except we focus almost exclusively on issues relating to personal finance. These are not advertorial or paid placements, rather we provide these articles to our partners in most cases for free. These relationships create more awareness of Credit.com in general and they result in more traffic to us as well.

Our Business Model

Credit.com’s journalism is largely supported by an e-commerce business model. Rather than rely on revenue from display ad impressions, Credit.com maintains a financial marketplace separate from its editorial pages. When someone navigates to those pages, and applies for a credit card, for example, Credit.com will get paid what is essentially a finder’s fee if that person ends up getting the card. That doesn’t mean, however, that our editorial decisions are informed by the products available in our marketplace. The editorial team chooses what to write about and how to write about it independently of the decisions and priorities of the business side of the company. In fact, we maintain a strict and important firewall between the editorial and business departments. Our mission as journalists is to serve the reader, not the advertiser. In that sense, we are no different from any other news organization that is supported by ad revenue.

Visitors to Credit.com are also able to register for a free Credit.com account, which gives them access to a tool called The Credit Report Card. This tool provides users with two free credit scores and a breakdown of the information in their Experian credit report, updated twice monthly. Again, this tool is entirely free, and we mention that frequently in our articles, because we think that it’s a good thing for users to have access to data like this. Separate from its educational value, there is also a business angle to the Credit Report Card. Registered users can be matched with products and services for which they are most likely to qualify. In other words, if you register and you find that your credit is less than stellar, Credit.com won’t recommend a high-end platinum credit card that requires an excellent credit score You’d likely get rejected, and that’s no good for you or Credit.com. You’d be no closer to getting a product you need, there’d be a wasted inquiry on your credit report, and Credit.com wouldn’t get paid. These are essentially what are commonly referred to as "targeted ads" in the world of the Internet. Despite all of this, however, even if you never apply for any product, the Credit Report Card will remain free, and none of this will impact how the editorial team reports on credit and credit scores.

Your Stories

Lastly, much of what we do is informed by our own experiences as well as the experiences of our readers. We want to tell your stories if you’re interested in sharing them. Please email us at story ideas [at] credit [dot] com with ideas or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.

Thanks for stopping by.

- The Credit.com Editorial Team