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MADISON - 6,900 Wisconsin consumers are eligible for $3.2 million in restitution from Ameriquest Mortgage Company and its related companies as part of a $325 million national settlement of a predatory lending lawsuit against the company. In a groundbreaking case joined by Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Ameriquest and its affiliates were alleged to have (among other things) misrepresented and/or not adequately disclosed the terms of home loans, such as whether a loan carried a fixed or an adjustable rate; charged excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties; refinanced borrowers into improper or inappropriate loans; and improperly inflated appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans.
The settlement resolves allegations by the Attorneys General and banking and finance regulators of the District of Columbia and every state except Virginia (where Ameriquest did not do business).
The claims administrator began sending letters and claim forms to eligible Wisconsin consumers during the week of July 9, 2007. To participate in the settlement and receive restitution, consumers must mail completed and signed forms to the settlement administrator by September 10, 2007.
The forms mailed to each consumer will indicate the minimum payment the consumer can expect to receive. However, the exact amount could be larger, depending on how many eligible Wisconsin consumers decide to participate in the settlement.
Van Hollen encouraged consumers to study the claim forms and information and reply as soon as possible.
Consumers who opt to receive the restitution payments relinquish their right to file lawsuits against Ameriquest related to the loans covered by the settlement. Therefore, consumers are encouraged to consult with a private attorney or, if they qualify, a legal services attorney, before deciding whether to participate in the settlement. However, consumers who participate in the settlement do not give up any claim they may otherwise raise if their home goes into foreclosure.
Under the settlement, over 481,000 borrowers who were customers of Ameriquest Mortgage Company, Town and Country Credit Corporation, and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc. (formerly known as Bedford Home Loans) between January 1, 1999, and December 31, 2005, are eligible to receive the restitution payments. Restitution payments nationwide are expected to total over $300 million.
A pamphlet of "Frequently Asked Questions" was mailed with the claim form and provides additional information about the restitution process for eligible consumers.
Consumers can also obtain detailed information about the settlement and their eligibility for restitution by going to the Settlement Administrator's web site: www.ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com. Consumers also may contact the Settlement Administrator at 800â€‘420â€‘5875. (Hearing-impaired persons may call 866â€‘494â€‘8274.)