In December of 2011, the Department of Justice (DOJ) reached a $335 million dollar settlement to resolve allegations of lending discrimination by Countrywide Financial Corporation. Countrywide was charged with steering African-American and Hispanic borrowers into loans with higher fees, higher interest rates, or other sub-prime loan features, simply because of a person’s race or national origin. Skin color, not credit worthiness, was the determining factor for the higher cost loan.
After finalizing the settlement, the DOJ conducted a statistical analysis of millions of Countrywide loans. The DOJ compiled a list of eligible African-American and Hispanic borrowers who obtained a Countrywide loan which contained higher costs and less favorable rates than loans extended to similarly-qualified non-Hispanic white borrowers during the time frame from 2004 through 2008. Either a borrower is on this list or not. There is no dispute process. Settlement notification letters were mailed in November 2012. The quickly approaching deadline to return a settlement claim is Thursday, February 28, 2013.
Despite having numerous African-American and Hispanic clients that should be eligible to participate in this settlement, only one client from our firm received a settlement notification and that client is a non-Hispanic, white person. This leads us to believe there are massive flaws in the DOJ’s identification and notification process.
If you obtained a Countrywide loan between 2004 through 2008, please call Rust Consulting (1-800-843-5148) which is the consulting firm administering the settlement. A customer representative will ask a list of identifying questions in order to check your eligibility against their database. Before settlement funds are disbursed, recipients may be asked to sign a waiver. It is important to have an attorney review the waiver before you sign it in order to assure that you are fully informed and protected.
It appears Countrywide’s racist practices were not limited to this one mortgage lender’s isolated practices. There are similar Department of Justice settlements with discriminatory (racist) other lenders; Suntrust (email@example.com ), Wells Fargo (here) and GFI Mortgage Bankers, Inc(800-896-7743 x 9992).
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