Q: Recently I called the savings and loan association that has our mortgage to ask about the tax increase in our payment. When they called back they said that this was the first time in seven years our account had been checked and that we owed $346 in back property taxes, and, as a result, our 20-year mortgage wouldn't be paid off in 20 years.

Is it common practice among savings and loan associations to let you fall behind? Is it possible we could take legal action against the lender?

A: This isn't common practice. Most well-managed savings and loan associations analyze all escrow accounts (taxes, insurance and any other similar payments, if there are any) each year, and notify the borrower if an adjusted payment amount is required. If you're doing business with a savings and loan association that still capitalizes the tax payments, then it is not unlikely that the bank will let you fall behind in payments. By and large, capitalizing tax payments became outmoded in the late 1950s and '60s.

There may be legal action available to you, but the expense may be too high to make it worth your while. Consult an experienced attorney to determine if legal action is feasible in your jurisdiction.