By JoAnn Parrott, Housing Counselor at Project Sentinel, one of the members of ForeclosureHelpSCC.
Today’s Post is about the Foreclosure Refund Program, part of the national Attorneys General Mortgage Settlement.
What is the Foreclosure Refund Settlement program?
The foreclosure refund program is one of three parts of the national attorneys general settlement with the five largest banks. As part of this $25 billion settlement, approximately $1.5 billion has been earmarked for the foreclosure refunds. The five banks (Chase, Ally/GMAC, Bank of America/Countrywide, Citibank, and Wells Fargo/Wachovia) agreed to compensate homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure inappropriately between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.
The remaining money is being used to provide up to $3 billion (nationally) in refinancing for homeowners who are underwater. In addition, up to $17 billion is being used for modifications (including principal reductions), short sales, and monetary assistance for homeowners who are transitioning out of their homes.
Is my lender part of the Settlement program? The participating lenders are Ally/GMAC (800-766-4622), Bank of America/Countrywide (877-488-7814), Citibank (866-272-4749), JPMorgan Chase (866-372-6901) and Wells Fargo/Wachovia (800-288-3212).
Am I eligible to apply? YES – Regardless of the circumstances you are currently experiencing or have experienced in the past, if your lender is participating in the program, you can apply.
How do I apply? For the foreclosure refund program, you may receive a claim form as well as general information regarding the program from the National Settlement Administrator. Kamala D Harris, California’s Attorney General, explained in a press release that letters are being mailed directly to 432,584 California homeowners between September 24 and October 12, 2012 about the foreclosure refund. If you believe that you are eligible for the foreclosure refund but did not receive a form, you can call the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator at 1-866-430-8358, Monday through Friday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. Central Time.
Once you receive the letter in the mail, you will need to complete the form and mail it back, or you can also fill it out online (but you’ll need the claim number from the letter you received, so don’t throw it away). More instructions are on the National Mortgage Settlement website.
For the other two parts of the settlement (refinancing and loan modifications), you can contact your lender directly to ask about your eligibility and the bank’s timeline for implementing these options.
How long do I have to apply? The deadline for submitting a claim for the foreclosure refund is January 18, 2013.
What if I don’t get a letter? If you don’t receive a letter by October 31, 2012 or if you have a different address now, contact the National Settlement Administrator at 866-430-8358 (M- F from 5am-5pm PST) or send an e-mail with your current mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do I need to hire somebody to help me apply? NO – The claim form is easy to complete. If you have questions, call 1-866-430-8358 (M-F from 5am-5pm PST) for help or send questions via email to: email@example.com.
What if I’m contacted by an agency that wants to help me? Be aware of possible settlement-related scams. Do not provide personal or financial information or pay money to anyone who claims to provide settlement-related assistance. If you believe someone is conducting a scam, contact the Attorney General’s Public Inquiry Unit at http://oag.ca.gov/consumers/general.
What do I have to prove with my claim? Once you are qualified, you do not need to prove financial harm to receive a payment nor do you give up your right to pursue legal action against the lender.
If you want, you can also apply for the Independent Foreclosure Review Process. It is a settlement with other regulators and 14 banks and servicers based on robo-signing issues that occurred between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. The Independent Foreclosure Review deadline is soon: December 31, 2012. More information on this program is available at our blog post about the Independent Foreclosure Review (scroll down to the bottom of the post) or on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.
How much money will I get? The amount of your refund depends on the total number of homeowners who decide to participate. The estimated number of participants nationally is approximately 2 million people.
When will I get my money if I am eligible? Payment checks are expected to be mailed to eligible participants in mid-2013.
What if I still own my property but need help paying the mortgage? Contact your lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency to discuss your options. To locate a HUD agency, call 800-569-4287.
If you are a homeowner living in San Jose or Sunnyvale and are struggling with your mortgage, please contact ForeclosureHelpSCC, a program funded by the City of San Joseand the City of Sunnyvale at (408)-293-6000 or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org. Our HUD-approved counselors can help you evaluate your options, learn more about federal and state programs that may help you with your mortgage issues, and will help you create a plan forward.
Please note: All content included in the ForeclosureHelpSCC blog is provided for information only and should NOT be considered legal or tax advice. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us on our hotline: (408)-293-6000, or visit our website: www.foreclosurehelpscc.org or send us an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.