Millions of homeowners eligible for foreclosure review

November 1, 2011: 2:39 PM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Homeowners whose lenders played fast and loose with their foreclosures may be in for a payday.

More than 4 million mortgage borrowers who were foreclosed on between 2009 and 2010 will have a chance to request an independent review of how their foreclosure process was handled, according to Joe Evers, the deputy comptroller for large banks at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).

Should the review find that "financial injury" occurred as a result of an error or other deficiencies in the way the foreclosure process was handled, the homeowner may receive compensation for their losses. However, just how much money the borrower will receive has yet to be determined, said Evers.

The reviews are part of a larger enforcement action taken against 14 large mortgage servicers last April by the OCC, the Federal Reserve and Office of Thrift Supervision in the wake of the "robo-signing" scandal.

As part of that action, the lenders, which include Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), Chase (JPM, Fortune 500), Citibank (C, Fortune 500), GMAC Mortgage, HSBC (HBC) Finance, Wachovia, Washington Mutual and Wells Fargo (WFC, Fortune 500), agreed to clean up their foreclosure practices and repay victims.

Troubled homeowners get a lifeline

"The independent foreclosure review is a significant component of the mortgage servicers' compliance with our enforcement actions," said acting Comptroller of the Currency John Walsh.

When foreclosures flooded the system after the housing bust, many mortgage servicers became more cavalier in the way they handled foreclosures. Affidavits and other documents were signed by low-level employees who had little or no knowledge of what they were attesting to, attorneys hired to manage the foreclosure process were providing inadequate oversight and many bank employees were ignoring requirements to halt foreclosure procedures if loans were in the modification process.

The mortgage servicers agreed to review foreclosure cases that occurred between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010 and determine if borrowers suffered financial losses as a result of any of these practices.

Letters will be sent to borrowers starting Tuesday that will explain how to request case reviews. Foreclosures must have been on primary residences. Borrowers have until April 30, 2012 to request reviews.

Evers said that the consultants will examine each foreclosure on a case-by-case basis and could spend months coming to their conclusions.

The 4% mortgage -- good luck getting one

He said there was no firm estimate of how much the claims could wind up costing the banks but it could certainly run into the "hundreds of millions of dollars."

If you believe you may be eligible but do not receive a letter, you may visit http://independentforeclosurereview.com/ for more information about the review process. Assistance is also available at 1-888-952-9105.

The reviews are completely free for all eligible borrowers. Consumers should beware of anyone requesting to be paid for this service or who claims they can influence the outcome of the review. To top of page


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