Millions of U.S. homeowners may have chance for foreclosure review

About 4 million homeowners who may have been improperly foreclosed upon in 2009 and 2010 are getting an opportunity to have their cases reviewed. Whether they will be reimbursed is up to the same lenders who are accused of moving too swiftly to seize their homes.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency says that mortgage services will begin sending out letters this month that ask borrowers whether they want their case reviewed.

The nation's 14 largest mortgage servicers — including Citibank, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo — were ordered to offer to review cases after the government found that some rushed the foreclosure process without carefully reviewing documents.

The orders require the lenders pay homeowners when a "borrower suffered financial injury." There is no minimum or maximum dollar amount identified.

Regulators say independent consultants also will review the cases and that those reviews would likely take several months. If a consultant finds that a lender erred, it will conduct follow-up reviews on other cases to see if the lender is trying to dodge blame.

"The challenge is substantial, but the steps we have required the servicers to take are vitally important to resolving these issues in a way that respects the rights of those who have been harmed and helps to restore confidence in the system," said John Walsh, acting Comptroller of the Currency.

In the four years since the housing bust, about 5 million homes have been foreclosed upon. About 2.4 million primary mortgages were in foreclosure at the end of last year. Another 2 million were 90 days or more past due, putting them at serious risk of foreclosure.

Eligible homeowners can call 888-952-9105 or go to www.independentforeclosurereview.com for more information.

Requests to review specific foreclosure cases must be received by April 30, 2012.

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