TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum and Office of Financial Regulation Commissioner Don Saxon today announced that more than 48,000 Florida consumers are eligible for $21 million in restitution from Ameriquest Mortgage Company and its related companies. The California-based company signed a settlement with 49 states and the District of Columbia, agreeing to provide $295 million in consumer restitution and to make sweeping reforms of practices that the states alleged amounted to predatory lending. Letters and claims forms to eligible consumers were sent out this week by the settlement’s administrator on behalf of the Attorney General’s Office and the Office of Financial Regulation.
“My office will continue to work to eliminate predatory lending practices, particularly those which target Floridians trying to purchase a home or pay off their debts,” said Attorney General McCollum.
The forms mailed to each consumer will indicate the minimum payment the consumer can expect to receive. However, the exact amount could be larger, depending on how many eligible Florida consumers decide to participate in the settlement. To participate in the settlement and receive restitution, consumers must mail completed and signed forms to the settlement administrator by September 10, 2007.
Under the settlement, consumers who opt to receive the restitution payments relinquish their right to file lawsuits related to the loans covered by the settlement. Therefore, consumers are encouraged to consult with a private attorney or, if they qualify, a legal services attorney before deciding whether to participate in the settlement. However, consumers who participate in the settlement do not give up any claim they may otherwise raise if their home goes into foreclosure.
Attorney General McCollum said a pamphlet of frequently asked questions was mailed with the claim form and provides additional information about the restitution process for eligible consumers. Consumers can also obtain detailed information about the settlement and their eligibility for restitution by going to the Settlement Administrator’s web site at http://www.ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com or by contacting the settlement administrator at 1-800-420-5875.
The 2006 settlement resolved allegations that Ameriquest and its affiliates misrepresented or did not adequately disclose the terms of home loans, such as whether a loan carried a fixed or an adjustable rate; charged excessive loan origination fees and prepayment penalties; refinanced borrowers into improper or inappropriate loans; and improperly inflated appraisals used to qualify borrowers for loans. The settlement included Ameriquest’s parent company, ACC Capital Holding Corporation, along with subsidiaries Town & Country Credit Corporation and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc., formerly known as Bedford Home Loans.