Attorney general: Beware scams stemming from mortgage settlement
By Nico Rubello
C & G Staff Writer
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is warning residents about scammers, who are calling people and falsely seeking personal and financial information with the fake claim of helping them access a settlement.
Questions about the legitimacy of callers can be directed to bank hotlines:
• Ally Financial: (800) 766-4622
• Bank of America: (877) 488-7814
• Citigroup: (866) 272-4749
• J.P. Morgan Chase: (866) 372-3212
• Wells Fargo: (800) 288-3212
The Michigan Attorney General’s Office is warning borrowers to beware scammers who claim they can tap into benefits from a settlement with five of the country’s largest mortgage servicers.
In April, 49 state attorney generals, including Michigan’s Bill Schuette, entered into a $25 billion settlement with five banks. Of that, Michigan is expected to receive about $780 million to help thousands of families.
The settlement addressed allegations of faulty foreclosure processes by Ally Financial, Bank of America, Citigroup, J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
However, those who have taken out mortgages from the affected banks will not be able to know whether they are eligible for benefits for at least several more months.
Schuette spokeswoman Joy Yearout said the attorney general’s office expects everyone eligible to be contacted by the end of the year. And those who do qualify, she said, should not have to pay a dime to access their payment.
In contrast, scammers have made unsolicited calls to Michigan residents in recent months, claiming to be from one of the banks involved in the settlement. They offer to “speed up” a settlement or to help people gain access to their benefits for an up-front fee, according to Schuette’s office. They may offer a payment in exchange for a bank routing number to access an individual’s bank account.
“A scammer will ask for your information — your bank or your personal information,” Yearout said. “That’s a red flag.”
Such claims are false because the banks and the state’s contracted settlement administrator, responsible for notifying eligible parties, will already have access to that information.
Yearout said it remains unclear how many Michigan residents actually will qualify for a settlement. But given the fact that the five banks involved are some of the largest in the nation, there is sure to be a “significant” number of people who had mortgages through them, she said.
The benefits will come in cash payments to people who went through foreclosure with these banks between 2008 and 2011, and refinancing programs for underwater homes, among other options.
Also, under the conditions of the settlement, borrowers have a right to speak to one person at their bank and have better access to their records, Yearout said.
“Frankly, that’s going to help everyone moving forward,” she added.
The goal, she said, is to have the majority of the settlements executed over two years, with the entire settlement received over three years.
“We’re going to move this along as fast as possible,” Yearout added. “For some reason, if it’s not moving as fast as it needs to be, (Schuette) will step in.”
Complaints about scams can be filed with the attorney general’s Consumer Protection Division by going to www.michigan.gov/ag and clicking on Complaints.
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