Claim forms are going to eligible consumers, who must submit claims by September 10, 2007.
Columbus — Attorney General Marc Dann and Director of Commerce Kimberly Zurz announced (July 12, 2007) that nearly 12,200 Ohio consumers are eligible for $7 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.
Attorney General Dann and Director Zurz said letters and claim forms are being mailed this week to eligible Ohio consumers. To participate in the settlement and receive restitution, consumers must mail completed and signed forms to the settlement administrator by September 10, 2007.
“This should be a warning to others in the lending industry that we will not tolerate unfair and deceptive mortgage lending practices in Ohio,” said Mr. Dann. “My office will work with the Department of Commerce and continue to use SB 185 to the fullest extent possible to address predatory lending.”
“The Ohio Department of Commerce is pleased to see that individuals and families who were harmed by Ameriquest Mortgage Company’s lending practices are eligible for compensation,” Director Zurz said. “The Strickland Administration and the Department are focused on and committed to eliminating predatory lending practices in our state.”
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 Ohio consumers decide to participate in the settlement.
Attorney General Dann and Director Zurz 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.
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 800‑420‑5875. (Hearing-impaired persons may call 866‑494‑8274.)
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) that Ameriquest and its affiliates, among other things:
- misrepresented and did not adequately disclose 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.