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National Mortgage Settlement FAQs

National Mortgage Settlement FAQs

Tennessee is participating in a state-federal mortgage servicing settlement with the nation's five largest servicers: Bank of America, Chase, Citi, GMAC/Ally Financial, and Wells Fargo. This agreement will provide several new servicing standards to improve communications with these servicers, and also relief to eligible homeowners including loan modifications, refinancing, principal reduction, and short sales.

It will take some time for the court to approve and the servicers to implement these programs and you should be contacted by your servicer if you are eligible. In the meantime, please contact your servicer directly at the following toll-free numbers to find out more information:

  • Bank of America: 877-488-7814
  • J.P. Morgan Chase: 866-372-6901
  • Citi: 866-272-4749
  • GMAC/Ally Financial: 800-766-4622
  • Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212

Tennessee borrowers who are having problems with their mortgages regardless of their servicer are encouraged to contact a free foreclosure prevention counselor for assistance. For a list of counselors or more information about housing assistance programs, please go to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What is a mortgage servicer and how do I know who services my loan?

A mortgage servicer administers mortgage loans, including collecting and recording payments from borrowers. A servicer also handles loan defaults and foreclosures, and may offer loss mitigation programs to assist delinquent borrowers.

The company that you make your monthly payment to is your mortgage servicer. Your mortgage servicer may or may not be a lending institution and may or may not own your loan. Many of the loans administered by servicers are owned by third-party investors.

Which borrowers may be eligible to receive assistance under the settlement?

This settlement is with the following five servicers: Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citi, GMAC/Ally Financial, and Wells Fargo. If your mortgage for your primary residence is serviced by one of these companies, you may be eligible for assistance. Your servicer should contact you directly about the potential relief. Please contact your servicer directly at the toll-free numbers listed above if you have any questions.

How will I know whether this settlement affects my situation?

The servicers will implement programs under this settlement over a three-year period, and borrowers will not immediately know if they are eligible for relief. For loan modifications and refinance options, eligible borrowers should be contacted directly by one of the five participating mortgage servicers. For payments to those who have already had a foreclosure, a settlement administrator designated by the attorneys general will send claim forms to eligible persons. Even if you are not contacted, if your loan is serviced by one of the five settling servicers, you are encouraged to contact your servicer directly at the toll-free number listed above to see if you are eligible. You may also want to get help from one of the free foreclosure prevention counselors in Tennessee by going to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What do I qualify for?

The Office of the Attorney General does not process applications for relief by these servicers. If the mortgage on your primary residence is serviced by one of these five entities, your servicer should notify you if you qualify for potential relief. Please contact your servicer directly if you think you may be eligible or have any questions.

What if I have already lost my home to a foreclosure sale?

If your primary residence was foreclosed on and sold by one of these five servicers between January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011, you may be eligible to receive a payment under the state-federal settlement. A portion of these settlement funds will be allocated as compensation to qualifying borrowers in Tennessee.

Borrowers who receive payments will not have to release any claims and will be free to seek additional relief in the courts. You should be notified by a settlement administrator if you are eligible. The State of Tennessee cannot determine whether you are eligible to receive a payment.

You may also be eligible for relief under a separate federal foreclosure review program. The OCC, which regulates national servicers, is requiring the 14 largest mortgage servicers to hire independent consultants to review the loan files of borrowers whose mortgage was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. If eligible, you should have received a form to request a review. These reviews only occur at the request of the borrower, so we encourage you to request this free review. The review may result in you receiving compensation or another remedy if the independent consultant determines you suffered financial injury through errors, misrepresentations, etc. in the foreclosure process.

If you believe you should be eligible for a review or for more information, please go to the federal foreclosure review program or call 888-952-9105. Please do not delay - the review request deadline is December 31, 2012.

Can I contact my servicer to ask for a modification or other relief?

If your mortgage is serviced by one of these five entities, your servicer should contact you if you are eligible for some form of relief. You can also call your servicer directly at the toll-free number listed above to seek more information. If you are having difficulty with your servicer, you can receive free foreclosure prevention counseling. For a list of counselors in Tennessee, please go to Keep My Tennessee Home.

I think I should get help from my servicer because of this agreement. Do I have to continue making payments on my loan until then?

The agreement does not by itself change your loan payment or allow you to stop making payments. You should not stop making payments on your loan just because you think you might qualify for relief. If you are having difficulty making your mortgage payment, contact your servicer directly or reach out to a free foreclosure prevention counselor in Tennessee by going to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What if I am current on my loan now but think I will not be able to make my payments in the future?

If you have concerns about making your mortgage payment, contact your servicer directly or reach out to a free foreclosure prevention counselor in Tennessee by going to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What if I am making my monthly mortgage payments but I'm unable to refinance because I owe more money than my home is worth?

If you are current on your payments but are underwater on your mortgage (owe more than your home is worth) and your loan is owned by your servicer, you may qualify for refinancing relief under the agreement. Your servicer will contact you directly if you qualify for potential relief. Please contact your servicer if you think you may be eligible or have any questions.

I called my servicer, but the person I spoke with was not able to answer my questions or provide assistance. What can I do?

You may want to contact a free foreclosure prevention counselor in Tennessee by going online to Keep My Tennessee Home.

I am having trouble making my loan payments, but my mortgage is not serviced by one of these five servicers. What can I do?

Borrowers having difficulty making their loan payments should immediately contact their loan servicer to discuss their options. Also, you may want to contact a free foreclosure prevention counselor in Tennessee by going online to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What if I am in foreclosure now?

If you are currently in foreclosure, contact your servicer directly to discuss options or reach out to a free foreclosure prevention counselor in Tennessee by going online to Keep My Tennessee Home. You may also consider seeking the advice of a private attorney.

What is the foreclosure review process I heard about recently in the press?

The OCC, which regulates national servicers, is requiring the 14 largest mortgage servicers to hire independent consultants to review the loan files of borrowers whose mortgage was active in the foreclosure process between January 1, 2009 and December 31, 2010. If eligible, you should have received a form to request a review. These reviews only occur at the request of the borrower, so we encourage you to request this free review. The review may result in you receiving compensation or another remedy if the independent consultant determines you suffered financial injury through errors, misrepresentations, etc. in the foreclosure process.

If you believe you should be eligible for a review or for more information, please go to the federal foreclosure review program or call 888-952-9105. Please do not delay - the review request deadline is December 31, 2012.

This independent foreclosure review required by the OCC is separate from this state-federal mortgage servicing settlement.

Can I still sue my servicer if I get assistance pursuant to the terms of the agreement?

Yes. Borrowers will not be required to release any legal claims they may have against their servicers in order to receive assistance under the agreement. Please remember that you have a limited time to seek the assistance of a private attorney. Failure to commence legal action within certain time frames may bar you from obtaining legal relief. Therefore, you should act quickly to consult with an attorney to review your rights.

Can the Office of the Attorney General give me advice about whether I have other legal claims against my servicer?

The Tennessee Attorney General's Office is unable by law to represent individuals. This settlement does not waive any private right of action you may have. If you believe you have a matter requiring legal assistance or advice, you should seek the assistance of a private attorney. Failure to commence legal action within certain time frames may bar you from obtaining legal relief. Therefore, you should act quickly to consult with an attorney to review your rights. The questions and answers provided here are not to be considered legal advice. See below to find out how to obtain legal assistance.

How can I find a lawyer?

The Tennessee Bar Association website has information about attorney referrals.

A number of agencies in Tennessee provide legal help for low-income persons. Mostly, Legal Aid helps people who have low income. Additionally, Legal Aid will sometimes help people who are not low-income, but are abused or over age 60. Visit the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services website for information or call (615) 627-0956 .

I received an email from someone claiming to work for my bank or mortgage servicer who wanted me to give him my bank account information to see if I am eligible for assistance under this settlement. What should I do?

Your servicer will have all of your personal information on file and will not contact you to verify it. Remember to protect yourself against identity theft and guard your personal information. Do not give out your social security number, credit card, bank information, or any other personal information to anyone you do not know who contacts you by email, telephone, or mail. If you have questions about contact from your servicer, please call your servicer directly at the toll-free number listed above.

What else can I do if I'm not sure I have been contacted by a legitimate representative of my bank or mortgage servicer?

If you experience calls, emails, or direct mail from someone you suspect is using this mortgage settlement to phish for your personal information, consider filing a complaint by contacting the Tennessee Division of Consumer Affairs online or by calling (615) 741-4737 or (800) 342-8385 (toll-free in Tennessee).

I am experiencing problems with my credit. What should I do?

Begin by making sure all of the information on your credit reports is accurate. By law you may receive one free credit report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). It is important to check all three reports. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to learn more.

How will this settlement help homeowners like me in the future?

The servicers have agreed to major reforms in how they service mortgage loans. These new servicing standards require lenders and servicers to adhere to a long list of rights for those facing foreclosure. For example, borrowers will have the right to see all of their loan documents to make sure any potential foreclosure is legal; they will be given every opportunity to first modify their loan before facing foreclosure; lenders and servicers will be required to have an appropriate number of well-trained staff members to promptly respond to the needs of distressed borrowers; and finally, borrowers will have the right to deal with a reliable, single point of contact so they have access to a person from whom to obtain information throughout the process. This is very important because, throughout the foreclosure crisis, borrowers have lodged widespread complaints about their frustrations in trying to work with their lenders. They've complained about unresponsive employees, lost documents, and conflicting information. These new servicing standards should help resolve these problems.

I have additional questions about my loan with one of these five servicers. Where can I obtain more information about the mortgage servicing settlement?

If you have any further questions about the settlement, contact your servicer directly at the toll-free number listed above or go to national mortgage settlement website. For more information about free foreclosure prevention counselors or other housing assistance programs in Tennessee, please go to Keep My Tennessee Home.

How does this agreement affect members of the military?

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) provides protections for active service members, including postponing or suspending certain civil obligations, such as mortgage payments and foreclosure. This agreement provides enhanced safeguards for military personnel that go beyond SCRA protections, including extending the window of protections for qualified service members, and not requiring service members to be delinquent to qualify for a short sale, loan modification, or other loss mitigation relief if the service member suffers financial hardship and is otherwise eligible for such loss mitigation.

Please contact your servicer directly if you are an active servicemember and need assistance with your mortgage. For more information about free foreclosure prevention counselors or other housing assistance programs in Tennessee, please go to Keep My Tennessee Home.

What if I'm having mortgage problems but do not qualify for relief under this agreement?

This agreement primarily affects mortgages that are owned and held by the nation's largest mortgage servicers. Two government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs), Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, control a majority of the nation's mortgage loans. GSE loans are not eligible for parts of this agreement because of the positions their regulator, FHFA, has taken. You may visit the following websites to learn if your loan is owned by either Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac:

Fannie Mae website
Freddie Mac website

Homeowners with GSE-controlled and other federal program mortgages who won't directly benefit from agreement-related programs should still see benefits through significant new mortgage servicing standards and consumer protections, dropping foreclosure rates across the country, and stabilizing home values. There are federal efforts apart from this agreement to modify Freddie and Fannie loans.

What assurance do I have that the servicers will comply with the servicing standards?

This agreement is backed by a federal court order. State Attorneys General and the U.S. Department of Justice can enforce this order in court if the servicers don't follow the settlement terms.

The settlement also includes an independent monitor. The monitor, who will work from a strict set of objective measuring standards, will oversee the servicers providing relief under the terms of the agreement and will report to the states and federal agencies on the servicers' compliance. There are significant penalties if the servicers violate the court judgment. A court-ordered settlement is very different from the voluntary, foreclosure prevention efforts that have been tried to date.