The Other Mortgage Settlement: Millions of Homeowners are Eligible

( The recent $26 billion settlement agreement signed by the five major mortgage lenders (Including Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, HSBC, Metlife Bank, PNC Mortgage and Wells Fargo) over robo-signing and other unethical foreclosure practices is not the only event that homeowners can get relief from.

Back in April of 2011, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) initiated an investigation against ten mortgage servicing entities that were also suspected of unfair practices when it came to handling defaulted loans and foreclosures. The number of servicers investigated by the OCC in this regard now stands at 14. The mortgage companies targeted by the OCC include mortgage giants Bank of America and Wells Fargo, as well as the highly controversial Mortgage Electronic Registration System (MERS) and smaller servicers like Aurora Loan Services.

The OCC began conducting reviews of the foreclosure practices of these mortgage companies in the fourth quarter of 2010. The reviews revealed questionable practices such as the continued processing of foreclosures after loan modifications have been requested, a practice known as dual-tracking. Back then the OCC directed the mortgage servicing entities to retain the services of third-party investigators to look into these patterns of abuse. During 2009 and 2010, the mortgage companies investigated by the OCC carried on more than 4 million foreclosures.

All those foreclosures are now eligible for independent review, and depending on the level of wrongdoing perpetrated by the mortgage servicing company, the borrowers may be entitled to financial relief. Some of the common irregularities noted by the OCC and the independent consultants include improper fees and railroading borrowers into a fast foreclosure and eviction without due process. In some cases, borrowers may be entitled to an amount of financial relief that is equal to the losses they incurred by the illegitimate foreclosures. The OCC settlement could potentially bring greater relief than the more publicized $26 billion settlement, since the latter settlement pay a maximum $2000 to homeowners who were wrongfully foreclosed upon.

The OCC settlement, however, seeks to compensate borrowers for specific losses, regardless of whether they lost their homes or not. Borrowers who think they are entitled to relief under the OCC review and enforcement must present a claim against the servicer, even if they have not yet been evicted. To qualify, the borrower must have been involved in a foreclosure proceeding between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. The process for independent review is free to qualified borrowers, and the website that contains the claim forms and additional information is