PhotoIf you would like an independent review of the foreclosure proceedings carried out on your home, you now have more time to ask for one. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Reserve have extended the filing deadline to December 31, 2012.

The new deadline is important if your home was foreclosed in 2009 or 2010 and you think you were a victim of foreclosure abuses by mortgage servicers covered by enforcement actions issued in April 2011.

Since many affected homeowners are unaware of their options, officials say the deadline extension provides more time to increase awareness about the Independent Foreclosure Review and how eligible borrowers may request a review. The goal, they say, is to encourage the broadest participation possible.

The agencies said they will work with the servicers to expand their outreach and marketing efforts through the end of the year to encourage as much participation as possible.

Review is part of nationwide settlement

As part of a nationwide settlement with the states and the federal government, the two agencies required 14 large mortgage servicers to retain independent consultants to conduct a comprehensive review of foreclosure activity in 2009 and 2010. The objective was to identify borrowers who may have been financially injured due to errors, misrepresentations or other deficiencies in the foreclosure process.

The issue centers on illegal actions taken by mortgage servicers at the height of the foreclosure crisis. Swamped with increasing numbers of loan defaults, mortgage servicers took a number of short-cuts, including hiring robo-signers to process documents that were supposed to be read and understood before being executed.

If the review finds that financial injury occurred, the borrower may get restitution in the form of lump-sum payments, suspension or rescission of a foreclosure, a loan modification or other loss mitigation assistance, correction of credit reports or correction of deficiency amounts and records. Lump-sum payments can range from $500 to -- in the most egregious cases -- $125,000 plus equity, according to guidance issued by the agencies.

What you should know

Homeowners considering a request for an independent review should know that taking this action does not prevent them from taking any other actions related to their foreclosures. Also, a mortgage servicer is now allowed to require a borrower to sign a waiver of the borrower's ability to pursue claims against the servicer in order to receive compensation under the Independent Foreclosure Review.

Information about the review process, including how to request an independent review, was mailed to potentially eligible borrowers in November and December 2011. If you believe that you meet the three criteria but have not received a mailing, call 888-952-9105, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (ET), and Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET). You can also get more information about the review through a Website set up by the servicers.

There are no costs associated with being included in the review; the review is a free program. The Federal Reserve says homeowners should beware of anyone who wants payment to assist them in connection with the independent foreclosure review or any other foreclosure assistance program.

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