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September 10, 2012

Deadline nearing for Oklahoma mortgage settlement

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahomans who lost their homes to foreclosure or were harmed by deceptive banking practices during the nation’s housing crisis have until Thursday to apply for part of an $18.6 million settlement with the nation’s largest lenders.

More than 326 mortgage-related complaints already have been filed with Oklahoma’s attorney general’s office, and more are expected this week as the deadline nears.

“We just don’t want people to get to Sept. 14 and hear about it,” said Diane Clay, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, which is processing the applications. “A lot of people, even if they didn’t lose their homes, will qualify for this if the harm happened before December 2011.”

Some of the practices banks engaged in that are covered under the settlement include robo-signing, where signatures were applied to documents without proper oversight, or dual-tracking, which involves banks guiding homeowners on adjusting mortgages while at the same time pushing ahead with foreclosure. Any homeowner who believes their foreclosure or loan modification involved unfair practices are being urged to apply, Clay said.

“There was a big range of harm, and that’s what this particular settlement is dealing with,” she said.

Oklahoma was the only state that did not sign off on a $25 billion settlement agreement with the nation’s largest mortgage lenders, but instead reached a separate agreement in which the lenders will pay $18.6 million to the state.

Oklahoma’s settlement involves the same five lenders involved in the national agreement: Bank of America, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo and GMAC.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has said the state reached a separate agreement with lenders over concerns that the national settlement had broadened into an attempt by President Barack Obama’s administration to restructure the mortgage industry rather than compensate victims of lending abuses.

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