Attorney General Janet Mills announced she is distributing $200,507 in foreclosure relief money from the Countrywide Financial Corporation settlement. The funds are being distributed to the state’s 10 Community Action Programs based on the population of the areas they serve.

In July 2009, Maine settled its claims with Countrywide alleging the company had engaged in predatory lending practices and in unfair and deceptive trade practices in connection with its loan servicing business. Under the settlement agreement, Maine received a total of $430,000 to first distribute to eligible homeowners with Countrywide loans who filed claims before the court-ordered deadline.

The remainder of the funds are required by the settlement agreement to be used for foreclosure relief efforts. Mills determined the remaining $200,000 will go to the 10 CAP agencies.  

“The HUD certified counselors at these CAP agencies have been doing a tremendous job helping consumers who are facing foreclosure,” said Mills in a statement. “These agencies are well aware of the neediest homeowners in their respective areas and they best suited to decide how the money may be used to make the most difference in consumers’ lives.”

Other settlement terms require Countrywide, which is now owned by Bank of America, to offer qualifying consumers the opportunity for a loan modification. Consumers who do not qualify for a loan modification will be offered relocation assistance payments by Bank of America.   

“The loan modification process is very confusing and frustrating for consumers,” said Mills in a press release. “I urge consumers not to pay for foreclosure assistance. Foreclosure assistance programs that charge fees are often scams. Instead, consumers at risk of foreclosure should contact a HUD certified counselor.”

Homeowners may obtain advice without charge from a HUD certified counselor by calling 1-888-664-2569. The HUD certified counselors located in many CAP agencies can help consumers work through a loan modification process. Also, a homeowner facing foreclosure has a right to mediation in the court system upon request.