Before the reports of widespread foreclosure fraud two years ago, Ohio had 14 consecutive years of increased foreclosures.
Then, we discovered that many of the biggest banks in the country simply didn’t follow the law and give people the chance they deserved to keep their homes.
We found that servicers used poorly maintained, lost, or even forged documentation to evict homeowners.
Big banks tell us that these mistakes are isolated and harmless. But these problems are not new.
Too many Ohioans were unjustifiably foreclosed on in recent years. That’s why it is important that the more than 140,000 Ohioans whose homes were foreclosed on in 2009 and 2010 know about the free Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process.
The IFR process – enforced by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve – awards financial assistance to borrowers who were foreclosed on because of inaccuracies and oversights.
According to the Independent Foreclosure Review website, borrowers are eligible for independent foreclosure review if: (1) the property securing the loan was the borrower’s primary residence; (2) the mortgage was in the foreclosure process at any time between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010; and (3) the mortgage was serviced by one of 27 IFR approved servicers. These servicers include: America’s Servicing Co.; Aurora Loan Services; BAC Home Loans Servicing; Bank of America; Beneficial; Chase; Citibank; CitiFinancial; CitiMortgage; Countrywide; EMC; EverBank/EverHome Mortgage Company; Financial Freedom; GMAC Mortgage; HFC; HSBC; IndyMac Mortgage Services; MetLife Bank; National City Mortgage; PNC Mortgage; Sovereign Bank; SunTrust Mortgage; U.S. Bank; Wachovia Mortgage; Washington Mutual (WaMu); Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.; and Wilshire Credit Corporation.
And while it’s estimated that 147,000 Ohioans are eligible, as of now, only 6,000 have requested IFR reviews.
The good news is that it’s not too late. With the application deadline extended to September 30, 2012, it is important to spread to word to Ohio homeowners that they may be eligible to receive compensation or other support.
For the families who were foreclosed on – even when they were abiding by the terms of their mortgage or their modification agreement, even after they requested assistance and submitted all the required documentation on time, or even though they were protected by bankruptcy – IFR can help.
The Independent Foreclosure Review process may provide compensation in the form of a lump sum payment, a loan modification, a suspended foreclosure, or even a corrected credit report.
While IFR is a good option for many homeowners, it’s not a perfect process and I’m working to fix some serious flaws in it. That’s why I sent a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency requesting that homeowners have access to an appeal process that ensures Ohioans can receive the assistance they deserve.
And though not everyone will receive compensation, going through the IFR process is free of charge and won’t prevent Ohioans from pursuing other options related to foreclosure assistance.
If homeowners don’t take advantage of this opportunity and participate in this program, then the banks will avoid making payments for their wrongdoing. Our economy will never fully recover until we stabilize the housing market – and that means restoring trust for both for homeowners and investors.
But it’s up to all of us to take action. By raising awareness of the services the Independent Foreclosure Review process provides, we can help Ohio homeowners receive the compensation they deserve.
To find out more about the Independent Foreclosure Review process, Ohioans can call 1-888-9105 or visit the website https://independentforeclosurereview.com/.
Sherrod Brown is a United States Senator from Ohio.