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Foreclosure review hotline set up

Homeowners whose primary home was in any stage of foreclosure in 2009 or 2010 and whose loan was handled by one of 14 major mortgage servicing companies can now call a national credit counseling hotline to find out if they are eligible for an independent foreclosure review.

The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, the trade group for nonprofit credit counseling firms like Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo, established a dedicated toll-free number to help homeowners who may qualify for the review. The phone number is 877-339-6322.

The service, which is being paid for through a grant from Bank of America Corp., was set up in response to a mandate by the Federal Reserve Board as part of its enforcement actions a year ago against 14 major mortgage servicers and their affiliates.

The Fed required the firms to hire independent consultants to review foreclosures that were started, pending or completed at any time during 2009 or 2010. The reviews are intended to find out if borrowers suffered any "financial harm" as a result of errors or other problems during the foreclosure process. If so, the servicers must provide compensation or other remedies.

Over 4 million Request for Review Forms were mailed to eligible borrowers in 2011, but consumers can still get help from the NFCC even if they didn't get a form, and the NFCC counselor can help them get a form if the consumer is found to be eligible for help.

The forms must be postmarked or submitted to the independent foreclosure review administrator by July 31.

The 14 servicers are Bank of America, Citigroup, Ally Financial, HSBC Bank USA, JPMorgan Chase & Co., MetLife, PNC Financial Services Group, SunTrust Banks, U.S. Bancorp, Wells Fargo & Co., Aurora Bank, EverBank, OneWest Bank, and Sovereign Bancorp.