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Independent Foreclosure Review Coming to a Close

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Homeowners seeking a review on whether they have been unfairly foreclosed have been granted an extension, but the deadline is almost here. All review requests must be received on or before September 30, 2012, extended from the original date, granted by the OCC and Federal Reserve in an attempt to assist a greater number of foreclosed homeowners during the years 2009 and 2010. However, like the government's loan modification program, HAMP, the number of homeowners this program has assisted to date has been far less than expected.

The process requires consultants to review foreclosures and identify those that may have been the subject of wrongdoing or harm. Servicers assist in these efforts, identifying additional foreclosed mortgages that could qualify for relief. At the end of May, though, they had only identified 338,400 -- a far cry from their original estimate of 4.5 million homeowners who could benefit.

The Independent Foreclosure Review will determine whether individual homeowners suffered financial injury and should receive compensation or other remedy because of errors or other problems during their home foreclosure process. If you believe you are eligible to participate in the program, you may complete and submit a Request for Review Form. It is important that you complete the form to the best of your ability; all information you provide can be useful.

Mortgages that fall under the program include homes that were involved in a foreclosure process between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010, and were serviced by the following lenders: America's Servicing Co., Aurora Loan Services, BAC Home Loans Servicing, Bank of America, Beneficial, Chase, Citibank, CitiFinancial, CitiMortgage, Countrywide, EMC, Everbank/Everhome Mortgage Co., Financial Freedom, GMAC Mortgage, HFC, HSBC, IndyMac Mortgage Services, MetLife Bank, National City Mortgage, PNC Mortgage, Sovereign Bank, U.S. Bank, Wachovia Mortgage, Washington Mutual, Wells Fargo, and Wilshire Credit Corp. Eligibility can be checked online by clicking on the name of the lender or servicer on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

All Requests for Review Forms must be submitted online or postmarked no later than September 30, 2012.

The servicers and consultants are charged with the responsibility of identify and notifying homeowners who meet the eligibility requirements. If it is found that these homeowners were the victim of a wrongful foreclosure, of suffered harm due to questionable practices by their servicer or lender, they could receive monetary compensation. Answers to frequently asked questions are available on the Independent Foreclosure Review website.

Homeowners who are not eligible for relief under this independent foreclosure review program might benefit from the National Mortgage Settlement agreement, a $25 billion agreement between Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Ally Financial and Citibank and 49 Attorneys General. In this agreement, homeowners who were foreclosed between 2008 and 2011 could be entitled to $2,000 and those homeowners who still carried a balance on their mortgage, after it was sold, may be able to reduce the amount of that debt. Homeowners who are underwater could also qualify, as well as homeowners who are in imminent danger of potentially defaulting on their mortgage. Details on this $25 billion settlement can be found at nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

Foreclosed homeowners who want to request a review to determine if they were wrongfully foreclosed should do so before September 30th, 2012. Identified homeowners should have received notice in writing describing the process; however, information can be obtained by calling 888-952-9105 or visiting the Federal Reserve's website.

Homeowners at risk of foreclosure should learn if they qualify under the government's expanded Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) or Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) by visiting makinghomeaffordable.gov.

It is still unclear exactly what the outcome will be for those homeowners who do request an independent foreclosure review. Remember, this is a review of possible internal wrongdoings during the foreclosure process, so any actions or remedies would depend on the wrongdoing and the damage or harm done to the homeowner as a result of it.

For those homeowners who are at risk of or currently faced with a foreclosure, there are options available to help them save their home. Communicate with your mortgage servicer to learn if they have specific programs available and, if needed, contact a housing counselor for assistance and escalate when necessary. There are trustworthy people who can advise and help you; however, in order to have the highest chances of success, it is important to empower yourself with the information needed to become your own best advocate.

Anna Cuevas, ex-bank executive turned homeowner advocate known as "America's Loan Modification Guru," has empowered and guided thousands of Americans in keeping their homes from foreclosure through loan modification self-advocacy. A popular blogger (askaloanmodguru.com), Cuevas has been called a "superhero of the loan modification industry" and has been nominated for CNN's Heroes. She is the #1 bestselling author of SAVE YOUR HOME Without Losing Your Mind or Money.