Two weeks ago, Ameriquest Mortgage settled charges (“without admitting wrongdoing”) that the company overcharged and defrauded consumers.
Thousands of homeowners nationwide have alleged in lawsuits that they were financially injured, in some cases losing their homes, being forced into bankruptcy or seeing their credit destroyed, after they obtained Ameriquest loans they were unable to repay.
The company was accused of pressuring “appraisers to inflate property values so borrowers could get bigger loans, charging upfront fees without reducing interest rates as promised and telling borrowers to ignore written information about interest rates because they would give them lower rates later. The company is alleged to have given them the higher interest rates instead.
(T)he company is also alleged to have assured borrowers their loans would have no prepayment penalties, then inserted such payments into the final loan documents; delayed the time period between the loan closing and the funding; and misrepresented fees and costs.
The company denied any wrongdoing in its settlement with 49 states and the District, but agreed to pay out a staggering $295 million to an estimated 200,000 borrowers nationwide over the coming year, plus $30 million to state agencies to reimburse them for legal and investigative costs.
The federal government announced the settlement during the last week of January. The company, either in an attempt to repair some of the damage, or to flout it’s escape from justice, ran advertisements during this weekend’s Super Bowl broadcast.
In one “risky but hilarious” Super Bowl ad, medical personnel use heart paddles to electrocute a bug in an unmoving patient’s room. A horrified wife and daughter arriveto see the paddles and hear “That killed him.” The message: “Don’t judge too quickly”.
How do you keep yourself from encountering this sort of problem when you look for a mortgage loan?
Ask lots of questions. And, get it in writing.
Don’t Believe It Unless It’s in Writing – by Kenneth R. Harney, The Washington Post
Ameriquest Settlement Is Due Next Week – by Kirstin Downey, The Washington Post