$9.3 billion in foreclosure assistance payments to begin this month

Agreement part of deal between banks and federal regulators. Some states getting questions about possible scams but program is legitimate.

On March 18, 2013, more than 4.2 million people were sent postcard notices about payments they will receive as a result of an agreement between federal banking regulators and 13 mortgage servicers. As a result of this new agreement, the Independent Foreclosure Review stopped at those servicers. A full list of companies and their affiliates or subsidiaries covered by the agreement is a available at the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

The agreement provides $3.6 billion in cash payments to borrowers covered by the agreement. Borrowers covered by the agreement include those whose primary residences were in any stage of the foreclosure process in 2009 or 2010 and whose mortgages were serviced by one of the participating servicers.

These mailings are the real thing, although they may look like a scam.  Beware of anyone who asks you to call a different phone number than the number below or to pay a fee to receive a payment under the agreement.  Michigan State University Extension does provide foreclosure scam prevention information in its education classes.

Payments are expected to range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. By accepting the payment borrowers do not waive any legal claims against their servicer and may pursue additional actions related to their foreclosure.

In most cases, a letter with an enclosed check sent by the paying agent — Rust Consulting, Inc. — will arrive in four to eight weeks. Some borrowers may receive a letter from Rust requesting additional tax-related information that will be needed to process their payment. Correspondence will be sent at the direction of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. The federal banking regulators will provide more details about the payments in April.

To verify that you are covered by the agreement or to update contact information especially if you have moved, call Rust Consulting at 1-888-952-9105. Information provided to Rust will only be used for purposes relating to the agreement.

If you need additional help with foreclosure prevention, please contact the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673) or at www.makinghomeaffordable.gov and they can put you in touch with a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved nonprofit organization that can provide free assistance.  Michigan State University Extension provides free housing counseling at its Macomb, Lapeer, Ionia and Washtenaw offices to surrounding areas.  Michigan State Housing Development Authority also has certified housing counselors available.

While the agreement ended the official review for 13 companies, the review process for more than 450,000 eligible borrowers serviced by OneWest, Everbank, and GMAC Mortgage continues because these companies did not enter into the agreement with federal banking regulators. Regulators expect the review process for these companies to be completed over the course of the coming year. Updates are available at the OCC website. Eligible borrowers at these servicers who requested a review will receive information about the outcome of their review when that information is available.

For more information on the Independent Foreclosure Review, see my news articles posted on October 3 and December 18.

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