Help for Homeowners

Consumer Alert:
Don’t be scammed by phony settlement assistance!

 

HELP FOR BORROWERS UNDER THIS SETTLEMENT

The National Mortgage Settlement negotiated by the state Attorneys General and the federal government and announced in February 2012 impacts borrowers serviced by the following major lenders:
• Ally/GMAC
• Bank of America
 Citi
• JPMorgan Chase
• Wells Fargo

You can find out who services your loan by looking at your monthly mortgage statement or you can search for your loan’s servicer by going online to MERS® Servicer Identification.

Because of the complexity of the mortgage market and this agreement, which will be executed over a three-year period, borrowers will not immediately know if they are eligible for relief. Borrowers from Oklahoma will not be eligible for any of the relief directly to homeowners because Oklahoma elected not to join the settlement.

The settlement provides assistance for:

  • Homeowners needing loan modifications now, including first and second lien principal reduction.  The servicers are required to work off up to $17 billion in principal reduction loan modifications and other forms of loss mitigation nationwide. Eligible borrowers will by contacted by the Servicers and will receive letters offering principal reductions or other modifications starting in June 2012.  This modification process will continue for approximately 3 years.
    State attorneys general anticipate the settlement’s requirement for principal reduction will show other lenders that principal reduction is one effective tool in combating foreclosure and that it will not lead to widespread defaults by borrowers who really can afford to pay.
  • Borrowers who are current, but underwater.  Eligible borrowers will be able to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates by refinancing their mortgage despite their negative equity.  Servicers will have to provide up to $3 billion in refinancing relief nationwide. 
  • Borrowers who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011. Total cash payments of just under $1.5 B will be distributed to borrowers who receive and return a claim form. There is no requirement to prove financial harm and borrowers will not have to release private claims against the servicers nor will they have to relinquish the right to participate in the independent review process being conducted by federal banking regulators.


TIMELINE

  • The Consent Judgments appointed former North Carolina Commissioner of Banks Joseph A. Smith, Jr. to be the settlement monitor.  Information about Smith’s Office of Mortgage Settlement Oversight is available here: https://www.mortgageoversight.com/ 
  • State members of the Settlement Monitoring Committee have selected an administrator to handle the logistics of the distributing the cash payments to foreclosed homeowners.  The settlement administrator is currently working to identify homeowners eligible for the cash payments.  Claim forms will be mailed this fall.  Checks are expected to go out mid-2013.
  • Meanwhile, the servicers are contacting eligible borrowers to offer loan modifications and refinancing.   If you receive a letter from your mortgage servicer offering settlement relief, DON’T THROW IT OUT. Please contact your servicer so you do not miss out on this valuable opportunity.
  • This settlement will continue to be implemented over the next three years.

WHERE YOU CAN GO FOR HELP

For loan modifications and refinance options, borrowers may be contacted directly by one of the five participating mortgage servicers. Keeping in mind the timeline above, you may contact the banks directly if you need additional information:

For borrowers who lost their home to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011 and whose loans were serviced by one of the five participating mortgage servicers, the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator mailed Notice Letters and Claim Forms in late September through early October of 2012, and for a small number of borrowers, in July of 2013. 

If you believe that you are eligible for relief and have not received a Claim Form, please contact the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator at 1-866-430-8358, Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Central Time.

FOR BORROWERS NOT ELIGIBLE FOR ASSISTANCE UNDER THIS SETTLEMENT

The National Mortgage Settlement is not the only assistance available to troubled borrowers. The following Web sites include valuable information for borrowers regardless of whether you are eligible for this settlement:

• www.makinghomeaffordable.gov
• www.independentforeclosurereview.com

You may also call: 1-800-569-4287 to connect with a HUD-approved housing counselor.

Loans owned by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac are not impacted by this settlement.  You may visit the following websites to learn if your loan is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac:
• www.fanniemae.com/homeaffordable
• www.freddiemac.com/avoidforeclosure

These sites will also include information about mortgage and foreclosure programs you may be eligible to access.


CONSUMER ALERT!

Scammers are already at work trying to capitalize on the national mortgage settlement to access your personal information—or worse, your money. The Attorneys General have already received reports of scammers in Alabama calling borrowers claiming to be one of the major banks involved in this settlement and offering a cash payment to consumers if they simply provide the routing number to access their bank account. If you receive an unsolicited call from one of the major banks, you can identify a scam in several ways:

  1. Does the caller identify themselves as representing your mortgage servicer? Or do they ask you to provide the name of your mortgage servicer? If they ask you for the name of your servicer, they may be a scammer.
  2. Does the caller offer to provide your personal information to assist you in identifying your account? Or do they ask you to provide that? If the caller is from your mortgage servicer, they will be able to tell YOU your personal information because they will have it. You should never provide your personal information (including bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.) to an unsolicited caller—no matter what they promise you.
  3. Does the caller offer to speed your settlement relief for a fee? They are definitely a scammer! Neither the banks nor the Attorneys General will charge a fee to speed your settlement.
  4. If you think the caller may be legitimate, ask for their contact information, tell them you are going to call your bank’s hotline (located above) and confirm, then call them back. Chances are if they’re a scammer, they won’t want you to check on them and they won’t provide their contact information.

 

REGISTER A COMPLAINT OR REPORT A SCAM

There are multiple ways to register a complaint about your mortgage servicer or to report fraudulent activity.

• Contact your State Attorney General. Contact information by state is available here: http://nationalmortgagesettlement.com/states

• File a complaint regarding your servicer with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: https://help.consumerfinance.gov/app/mortgage/ask

• Report a scam to the federal Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force: http://www.stopfraud.gov//report.html