SALT LAKE CITY — KSL recently reported on important relief available to homeowners facing foreclosure, paying more than their house is worth or those who have been foreclosed upon and lost their home.
As crucial deadlines are fast approaching, KSL is providing an updated summary of assistance available for struggling homeowners and other victims of unfair lending practices — and what you need to do to access it.
Remember, these programs matter — but unless you take advantage of them, help is not available. A proactive approach is required.
Thousands of Utahns qualify for help. Below is a list of settlements and reviews that were created to help struggling borrowers. In some cases, application deadlines are coming up. If you miss the deadline, you will not qualify for relief.
Independent foreclosure review vs. national mortgage settlement
If you believe your home mortgage foreclosure was conducted unfairly or mistakes were made, relief is available in several forms:
Independent Foreclosure Review
In April 2011, the Federal Reserve Board and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency took action against over 20 large mortgage servicers. If your primary home was involved in a foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 31, 2010, you may qualify for a free Independent Foreclosure Review.
“Homeowners who believe they were wrongfully injured by a foreclosure error in 2009 and 2010 should request a review,” Bryan Hubbard, an Office of the Comptroller of the Currency spokesman, told KSL. “They give up no rights by requesting a review.”
Independent fact-checkers will determine whether you were harmed by mortgage foreclosure errors or other problems and should be paid to make up for that harm. Borrowers seeking a review must apply by Dec. 31, 2012.
The following mortgage servicers are participating in the Independent Foreclosure Review process:
- America’s Servicing Company
- Aurora Loan Services
- BAC Home Loans Servicing
- Bank of America
- EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company
- Financial Freedom
- GMAC Mortgage
- IndyMac Mortgage Services
- MetLife Bank
- National City Mortgage
- PNC Mortgage
- Sovereign Bank
- SunTrust Mortgage
- U.S. Bank
- Washington Mutual
- Wells Fargo
- Wilshire Credit Corporation
In effort to assist with the application process, the Federal Reserve has put together a short "Independent Foreclosure Review PSA” video. The video provides program details in English and [in Spanish](http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Umv1VRZ_eHc "Fed YouTube foreclosure video --</p></p><p>Spanish").
For in-depth information on how to spread the word to your local area, please visit the website for the community partner toolkit.
National Mortgage Settlement
Last February, the U.S. Department of Justice and 49 state attorneys general announced a $25 billion settlement with five major banks over so-called “robo-signing,” in which foreclosure documents were signed without properly verifying their accuracy.
While not a perfect deal, the National Mortgage Settlement offers meaningful relief for some homeowners in the form of principal or interest reductions, in addition to other relief.
The National Mortgage Settlement administrator recently mailed Notice Letters and Claim Forms to those borrowers who lost their homes due to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011, whose loans were serviced by one of the five servicers: Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Impacted homeowners can now submit their claim form online. The deadline to file is Jan. 18, 2013. If you think you may be eligible, you can contact your bank directly for additional information:
Bank of America: 877-488-7814 (Available M-F 7 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturdays 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Central Time.)
JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901
Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212 (Available M-F 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. Central Time)
For more information, please visit the National Mortgage Settlement website or call them at 888-995-HOPE (4673).
“Whether it be through the Independent Foreclosure Review or the National Foreclosure Settlement, homeowners faced with a foreclosure should take advantage of this review,” foreclosure defense attorney Carlos Reyes told KSL. “The process is free and totally without fee. Don’t let someone charge you for completing an application that you can complete yourself online in less than 30 minutes.”
Bill Lewis is the principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates and host of "The Credit Report with Bill Lewis" — a daily forum for business and financial news, politics, economic trends and issues on AM 740 WSBR in south Florida.