Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced today that claim forms are going out to more than 23,000 Oregonians who may be eligible for payment under the national mortgage foreclosure settlement.
Qualifying Oregonians will each be eligible for cash payments of $840 or more. To be eligible, borrowers must have lost their home to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011 and had their mortgages services serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase or Wells Fargo.
The nation’s five largest mortgage servicers agreed to the payments as part of a $25 billion settlement with the federal government and attorneys general for 49 states and the District of Columbia.
The “Big Five” servicers have already paid $29.3 million to the state as part of the settlement. They have also pledged $300 million worth of loan modifications and other assistance to current customers.
About $1.5 billion of the settlement is earmarked for 2 million borrowers nationwide. The exact payment will depend upon the total number of borrowers who decide to participate.
“This payment is intended as partial compensation for the mortgage servicers’ improper conduct,” Rosenblum said. “By participating, borrowers do not give up any legal rights. They’re free to participate in this settlement and also pursue other legal remedies such as filing a lawsuit or participating in a class action, if they so choose.”
Borrowers must return their claim forms by Jan 18 to be eligible for payment. Last week, the national settlement administrator mailed notification postcards to the eligible borrowers nationwide. In Oregon, packets containing a letter from the Attorney General, claim form, instructions and answers to frequently asked questions are being mailed to eligible borrowers beginning today and continuing through Oct. 12.
Attorney General Rosenblum urged eligible Oregonians to complete their claim forms and return them as soon as possible in the envelope provided, or file them online at www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com. The deadline for all claims is January 18, 2013. Payment checks are expected to be mailed in mid-2013.
The one-page claim forms are simple to complete. However, borrowers who have questions or need help filing their claim can contact the settlement administrator, toll-free, at 1-866-430-8358, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The information line is staffed Monday through Friday from (7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Central).
Eligible borrowers do not need to prove financial harm to receive a payment, nor do they give up their rights to pursue a lawsuit against their mortgage servicer or to participate in the Independent Foreclosure Review Process being conducted by federal bank regulators. More information about that program is available at www.independentforclosurereview.com.
Eligible borrowers may get a payment from this settlement even if they participate in another foreclosure claims process. However, any payment received may reduce payments borrowers may be eligible to receive in any other foreclosure claim process or legal proceeding.
Borrowers who believe they may qualify for a payment, but did not receive a notice because they have moved, should contact the settlement administrator directly to provide that information.
Borrowers should not need to pay anyone to file their claim. Rosenblum warns all homeowners to be aware of settlement-related scams. Do not provide personal information or pay money to anyone who calls or emails you claiming that they are providing settlement-related assistance. If you believe someone is conducting a settlement-related scam, contact the Oregon Department of Justice at 503-378-6002.
The national settlement followed state and federal investigations, which alleged that the five mortgage servicers, which between them control more than 60 percent of the market, routinely signed foreclosure-related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without personal knowledge that the facts contained in the documents were correct. This civil law enforcement action also alleged that the servicers committed widespread errors and abuses in their foreclosure processes.
Broad reform of the mortgage servicing process resulted from the settlement, as well as financial relief for borrowers still in their homes through direct loan modification relief, including principal reduction.
Jeff D. Manning, email@example.com, 503-378-6002