Victims sought in discriminatory lending case

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Department of Justice is still looking for victims of a $335 million settlement involving discriminatory lending practices from Countrywide Financial Corporation.

The Justice Department and Countrywide agreed on a settlement after investigators said the lender engaged in lending practices from 2004 to 2008 that affected more than 1,300 African American and Latino Hoosiers.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett said more than 400 people eligible for the settlement have not been located or failed to respond after being notified. Victims of lending discrimination are entitled to payments if they meet a March 29, 2013, deadline. Individual payments could range between $3,000 and $20,000.

Anyone who may have been a victim of discrimination should call 1-800-843-5148 or send an email email to info@CWFLSettlement.com.

The Justice Department said Countrywide steered thousands of minority lenders into subprime mortgages when non-minority borrowers with similar credit backgrounds received prime rate. An investigation discovered that the minority borrowers were qualified for more preferable mortgage loans.

More than 200,000 minority borrowers from across the country were victims of the discriminatory lending. The criminal complaint said borrowers were charged higher fees and interest rates based on race or national origin—not because of their credit worthiness or Countrywide’s own criteria.

The subprime loans carried different terms, including prepayment penalties and adjustable rates that skyrocketed after two or three years. As a result, borrowers saw their payments increase dramatically, increasing their risk of foreclosure.

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