- By Attorney General Lisa Madigan
- February 14, 2012
Throughout January and February, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) is curating a blog series on vacant properties in metropolitan Chicago. In the coming weeks, MPC's blog, The Connector — as well as the web sites of some of our partners — will feature posts from elected and appointed officials, policy advocates, finance experts, and others about the many ways we are all working together to get a handle on this growing regional and national housing and community development challenge. The opinions expressed in these posts do not necessarily reflect MPC's opinion. Follow the blog series at www.metroplanning.org/vacantproperties.
The following is a public announcement from the Illinois Attorney General's Office regarding the nation's $25 billion settlement with the nation's largest banks to assist distressed homeowners. The announcement includes frequently asked questions regarding eligibility for assistance. For more information, visit the Attorney General's Office's web site.
As you know, Attorney General Lisa Madigan has fought many battles in recent years to help keep Illinois homeowners in their homes and to hold banks and Wall Street accountable for their actions. Today, Illinois is joining a national settlement that is the latest step in our effort to assist distressed homeowners in saving their homes and in ending abuses that have occurred too often in the foreclosure process.
After more than a year and a half of difficult negotiations, a nationwide $25 billion settlement has been reached that will help distressed borrowers reduce the principal on their home mortgages, allow underwater homeowners to take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates and pay restitution to people who suffered mortgage-related abuses. Illinois is expected to see approximately $1.2 billion in relief from the settlement.
The settlement also creates strict new mortgage servicing standards to protect borrowers and homeowners in the future. The new standards will end many abuses of the past, including prohibiting banks from foreclosing on borrowers while simultaneously negotiating loan modifications.
This settlement comes on the heels of Attorney General Madigan’s recent $20 million settlement with Bank of America/Countrywide for discriminating against thousands of Illinois borrowers of color during the height of the subprime mortgage lending spree. The Attorney General also continues to fight a fair-lending lawsuit against Wells Fargo for illegally targeting African American and Latino borrowers for the most expensive and poorest quality mortgages. Earlier this year, Attorney General Madigan sued the credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s for its fraudulent role in giving its highest ratings to risky mortgage-backed investments.
While we certainly will continue to fight for Illinois homeowners and to bring to justice those who violate the law, this settlement provides significant help for individuals and important reforms in mortgage servicing. In this email, we have included information on the homeowner assistance provisions of the settlement. We also are attaching additional information to explain the settlement. For more information, you can follow the link below to our web site: www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html
Please let us know if you have specific questions on the settlement. You may direct homeowners with questions to our Homeowner Helpline at 1-866-544-7151.
AM I ELIGIBLE FOR BENEFITS?
You may be eligible if you fall into one of the following categories:
- You lost your home anytime between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011 and Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase, CitiGroup, or GMAC handled your mortgage payments.
- You owe more on your home than it is worth; you are 30 days or more behind on your mortgage payments, or you are at risk of falling behind on your mortgage payments and you make your mortgage payments to Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, CitiGroup, or GMAC.
- You owe more on your home than it is worth, you are current on your mortgage, you make your loan payments to Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, CitiGroup, or GMAC and you are seeking to refinance your loan
IF I LOST MY HOME DURING THAT TIME PERIOD, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- You will be contacted by the Attorney General’s Office through a settlement administrator.
- You can call the Illinois Attorney General’s Homeowner Hotline at 1-866-544-7151 or visit this web site to leave your contact information: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html
- You may also file a claim with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency if you believe you have been financially injured due to errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in your foreclosure process that took place between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010.
- You can visit www.IndependentForeclosureReview.com or call 1-888-952-9105. Requests must be received by April 30, 2012
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM BEHIND ON MY MORTGAGE PAYMENTS?
You can do two things:
- Call your servicer at the toll free numbers below:
Bank of America: 1-877-488-7814 • Chase: 1-866-372-6901 • GMAC: 1-800-766-4622
Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212 • CitiGroup: 1-866-272-4749
and we will direct you to the best place for assistance regarding your eligibility for benefits. There are various benefits you may be eligible for, including: Principal reductions on 1st and 2nd liens, short sale assistance, deficiency waivers, and forbearance for unemployed borrowers, special programs for members of the military.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I AM CURRENT ON MY MORTGAGE PAYMENTS BUT UNDERWATER ON MY LOAN AND WISH TO REFINANCE MY LOAN?
Bank of America, Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup or GMAC will contact you if you are eligible. You can call your servicers at the numbers above if you want to ask about eligibility. You may also contact the Attorney General’s Office and leave your contact information with us. Your interest rate must be in excess of 5.25% and you must have been current for the last 12 months.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL BENEFITS FOR MEMBERS OF THE MILITARY?
If you receive Permanent Change of Station Orders, you may be eligible for a deficiency waiver on a short sale of your home.
This information and more is available online at: http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/consumers/bankforeclosuresettlement.html