The Edmond Sun

State News

August 27, 2012

Deadline approaches for victims of unfair lending to apply for relief

OKLA. CITY — Oklahomans who were victims of mortgage companies’ “unfair and deceptive” practices only have a few weeks left to apply for restitution through the Attorney General’s Office.

“We’re hoping that they don’t wait until the day before the deadline because that might not give them enough time to gather what they need to apply,” spokeswoman Diane Clay said.

After opting Oklahoma out of a national settlement, state Attorney General Scott Pruitt helped negotiate an $18.6 million agreement in February for compensatory damages for Oklahoma homeowners who were victims of practices such as dual-tracking or robo-signing by Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and GMAC during the mortgage and foreclosure crisis.

The deadline to apply is Sept. 13.

Since the announcement of Oklahoma’s settlement, consumer representatives at the Attorney General’s Office have fielded nearly 700 telephone calls from residents with questions about the settlement, she said.

Pruitt opted Oklahoma out of the multistate $25 billion settlement that the 49 other states agreed to adopt. Under the federal settlement, states also received millions of dollars for additional avenues of relief for homeowners — including principal reduction programs and refinancing options for homeowners who owe more than their home is worth.

Pruitt has said Oklahoma crafted its own settlement with the banks subject to the federal agreement because he wanted to focus on compensatory damages for home-owners who were victims of “unfair and deceptive” practices by the mortgage-servicing industry.

Other state programs offering principal reduction and refinancing assistance drifted too far from the original goal of the national investigation by various state attorneys general, Clay said.

“The whole reason the states started the investigation was to see if there was any wrongdoing on the part of these banks,” Clay said. “Then all of a sudden, it shifted from that to include housing policy issues.”

Pruitt’s goal was to draft a settlement program that would give his office “more control and ability to help our own citizens and offer restitution that was meaningful,” Clay said.

Applying for Oklahoma’s relief program does not prevent anyone from applying for federal programs designed to help homeowners who are under water or behind on their payments.

Under Oklahoma’s agreement, homeowners harmed by practices such as dual-tracking will likely receive more money, Clay said.

“Under the federal program, the maximum they would have gotten for that is $1,500 to $2,000,” she said. “With Oklahoma doing our own settlement, we are not bound by those limits, we can set those limits ourselves.”

State officials are currently working on developing an index to set levels of compensation for homeowners, based on values assigned to different types of harm.

“It will be kind of like a triage system,” Clay said.

One of the most egregious examples the office has seen is that of an Oklahoma family whose mortgage company sold their policy and added unnecessary and unwanted hazard insurance, causing their monthly mortgage payment to jump from $1,500 to $2,300.

They eventually couldn’t pay and asked for help, Clay said. The mortgage company told them not to make their payment for three months so they could become delinquent and then qualify for an assistance program.

The family signed up for the company’s foreclosure prevention program — and although they did everything they were told to do, the company was secretly dual-tracking them toward foreclosure, Clay said.

Eventually, the home was foreclosed on and sold at auction.

Some 326 mortgage-related complaint files have been opened by the office, and 73 consumer complaints alleging modification-related wrongdoing (covered under the federal settlement) have been processed to the five mortgage servicers involved, she said.

They also sent letters to 126 consumers who had filed foreclosure or modification-related complaints with the Attorney General’s Office before the settlement was announced to make sure they were aware of the new program and encouraged them to fill out restitution claim forms.

Homeowners who want to know if they’re eligible are encouraged to call 405-521-2029, so consumer representatives can help them review all potential options. They may not qualify for relief through Oklahoma’s settlement but may still qualify for those arms of federal programs through the banks.

“People need to call and we can help them work through that process,” she said.

Relief from unfair lending

Oklahomans who think they were subjected to unfair and unlawful practices during the foreclosure process can apply for compensation at  or by calling 405-521-2029.

The state is developing an index to determine how to compensate Oklahoma residents if they’ve been harmed by unfair lending practices.

Homeowners who aren’t sure if they qualify for the program are encouraged to call the office and answer some basic questions to see if they may benefit. Only Oklahoma residents are eligible, and the home in question must be the primary residence.

Applications must be received by Sept. 13.

Applying for aid through Oklahoma’s settlement does not prevent homeowners from applying for the national programs through the five included banks, which include refinancing options for people who are current on their payments but who owe more than the current value of their home, and principal reduction options for people who are delinquent on their mortgages.

For information on the refinancing and mortgage reduction options provided by the federal settlement, Oklahomans whose mortgages are with these banks should call the following toll-free numbers:

Bank of America: 877-488-7814

Citigroup: 866-272-4749

GMAC: 800-766-4622

JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901

Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212

What other states are doing

Under the state’s unique program, Oklahoma home-owners who were foreclosed upon or incurred financial harm due to mortgage industry practices like robo-signing and dual-tracking may get more money than homeowners with similar problems in other states, according to Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office.

But homeowners in the other 49 states may have more options if they’re in danger of losing their home.

Take the case of neighboring Arkansas — which has 850,000 fewer residents than Oklahoma — and will receive an estimated $39.4 million through the settlement, according to the Arkansas attorney general. That’s $20 million more than Oklahoma is getting through Pruitt’s agreement.

Arkansas lenders will dedicate approximately $11.8 million toward first- and second-lien principal reduction and other forms of loan modification relief in Arkansas.

Another $5.7 million will be set aside for refinancing the loans of borrowers in Arkansas who are under water — meaning their homes are now worth less than they owe on their mortgages.

Arkansans who lost their homes to foreclosure from Jan. 1, 2008, to Dec. 31, 2011, and suffered from unfair/deceptive practices by mortgage servicers would be entitled to a share of approximately $8.5 million, according to the Arkansas Attorney General’s Office.

Cary Aspinwall 918-581-8477

cary.aspinwall@tulsaworld.com

1
Text Only
State News
  • Kaiser joins Thunder ownership group

    Tulsa businessman George B. Kaiser has been approved by the NBA Board of Governors as a new partner in The Professional Basketball Club LLC, which owns the Oklahoma City Thunder. Thunder Chairman and CEO Clayton I. Bennett made the announcement Friday. Kaiser is purchasing the ownership interest of Tom L. Ward.
    “We are honored to welcome George Kaiser as a member of the ownership group of the Oklahoma City Thunder,” Bennett said. “George is a well-respected and important Oklahoma business leader, as well as one of the state and nation’s top philanthropists. His commitment to successful business and community leadership is in true alignment with that of the Thunder.
    “I also appreciate the commitment and leadership provided by Tom Ward as a member of our ownership group from the beginning,” Bennett added.

    April 18, 2014

  • jc_HarveySparks.jpg Pastor seeks congressional seat

    Working in the Congressional 1st District office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine was an eye opener for Harvey Sparks, he said. His analytical exposure to Congress has sparked his drive to run for the Congressional 5th District of Oklahoma, said Sparks, R-Oklahoma City.
    Sparks has been a pastor for the majority of his professional life. Sixteen months ago, he was asked by 1st District Congressman Jim Bridenstine to come work in his Washington, D.C., office. He and his wife, Jennifer, have three daughters and a son, ages 10-3.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War the theme at Heritage Center Family Saturday

    The event will be 1-3 p.m. Saturday and is free with admission to the museum.

    April 16, 2014

  • MS_injection well.jpg Agency clarifies earthquake-related misinformation

    A state agency says misinformation related to the debate about the cause of more earthquakes across Central Oklahoma includes oil well types, well numbers and injection pressure.
    The Prague sequence of 2011 along the Wilzetta Fault zone included a significant foreshock, a main shock of magnitude 5.7 and numerous aftershocks. It has been suggested that this sequence represents tremors triggered by fluid injection.
    More recently, earthquakes have been recorded in the vicinity of Jones, Arcadia Lake, Edmond, Guthrie, Langston and Crescent. Regulators and scientists are working together to better understand what’s causing all the shaking.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff seeks items for agency history project

    If you have historic pictures or artifacts related to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office, the agency is asking the public to share them.
    “The Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office is working on a history project. If you, your family, friends or acquaintances have any old photos or artifacts related to the OCSO we would love to have them or a digital copy,” said Oklahoma County Sheriff John Whetsel.

    April 16, 2014

  • History_Tour_5_BH.jpg History tours begin May 17

    Downtown Enid will be the scene of Chisholm Trail Coalition Walking Tours

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • New study counters pot legalization argument

    A new study raises a strong challenge to the idea that casual marijuana use isn’t associated with bad consequences, a researcher says.
    Researchers say the findings suggest recreational marijuana use may lead to previously unidentified brain changes and highlight the importance of research aimed at understanding the long-term effects of low to moderate marijuana use on the brain.

    April 15, 2014

  • brisket2.jpg Food Network show visits Guthrie for ’89er Days

    Guthrie’s annual ’89er Days Celebration provides a variety of activities for people to enjoy including a carnival, rodeo, parade and lots of food vendors.
    This year, visitors at the 84th annual event, which runs Tuesday through Saturday, will notice an added bonus when a film crew from the new television series “Carnival Eats” will be in town filming for its inaugural episode.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • OCSP-Family and Treasurer-04-15-2014.jpg Treasurer Miller awards ‘Tax Day Baby’ with college savings plan

    April 15 is commonly known as the day many will spend in line at the post office or finishing final preparations for tax returns. This year, one Oklahoma family spent April 15, tax day, welcoming their new son, born at 2:07 a.m. and was recognized as the first Tax Day Baby at Mercy Hospital Oklahoma City. 
    As the first Tax Day Baby, State Treasurer Ken Miller, R-Edmond, awarded, Quan Ta, with an Oklahoma 529 College Savings Plan worth $1,529. Miller, who serves as board chairman for the OCSP, reminds parents and grandparents that any contribution made to an OCSP account by April 15 qualified for a 2013 Oklahoma income tax deduction.

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Candidate filing period ends

    From the U.S. Congress to the Oklahoma House, several incumbents are hoping to hold onto their jobs in the 2014 elections.

    April 15, 2014