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Frequently Asked Questions (Restitution Payments)
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Background Information

Eligibility


Notice of Eligibility and Restitution Payment Amount


Participation in the Settlement


Effect of Signing the Release Form


Completing the Release Form


Getting More Information



BACKGROUND INFORMATION


1. What kinds of lending practices did the States investigate?  (top)

The States investigated complaints that Ameriquest used a variety of unlawful lending practices, such as giving borrowers inaccurate information about interest rates, Discount points and other mortgage loan terms, inflating property appraisals, and persuading borrowers to refinance, even when refinancing didn’t offer any real advantage to the borrowers. Some borrowers also complained that Ameriquest pressured them to close loans on terms that were different from those originally proposed, and failed to complete funding of loans on time.

You can read the complete list of lending practices that the States investigated by clicking here to see the definition of “Lending Practices” in the Settlement Agreement.

2. What did the Settlement require Ameriquest to do?  (top)

The Settlement required the establishment of a $295 million dollar Settlement Fund to provide restitution payments to certain borrowers identified by the States. The Settlement Fund was Distributed to eligible borrowers who obtained mortgage or home equity loans directly from Ameriquest, Town and Country Credit, or Bedford Home Loans during the period from January 1, 1999 through December 31, 2005. Borrowers eligible for a restitution payment were notified by mailed Notice in July 2007, and a small number of additional borrowers who are eligible were notified by mail on January 21, 2011.

Ameriquest has also agreed to significantly change many of its lending practices, and give borrowers complete and true information about interest rates, Discount points, prepayment penalties, and other refinancing terms.  You can see all of the Settlement requirements by clicking here to read Section IV of the Settlement Agreement.

3. Why didn’t Virginia join the Settlement?  (top)

Ameriquest didn’t do business in Virginia.

ELIGIBILITY


4. What were the eligibility Requirements?  (top)

The $295 million Settlement Fund was divided into two separate funds of $175 million and $120 million. Borrowers could have been eligible for a restitution payment from one or both funds.

You were eligible for a restitution payment from the $175 million fund if:

  • You obtained at least one mortgage loan or home equity loan directly from Ameriquest between January 1, 1999 and April 1, 2003, and
  • The loan met criteria set by the States.

The vast majority of borrowers who obtained a mortgage loan directly from Ameriquest, Bedford Home Loans, or Town and Country between January 1, 1999 and April 1, 2003 were eligible to participate in the Settlement. However, a small number of loans that closed between January 1, 1999 and April 1, 2003 did not meet the criteria to be eligible for restitution.

You were eligible for a restitution payment from the $120 million fund if:

  • You obtained at least one mortgage loan or home equity loan directly from Ameriquest between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2005, and
  • The loan met criteria set by the States.

Each individual State determined its own criteria for Distributing its share of the $120 million fund to its residents, based on the type of loan and other loan characteristics. The $120 million fund was Distributed to borrowers who: (1) obtained loans between April 2, 2003 and December 31, 2005, and (2) met the criteria set by the State where the borrower lived at the time he or she obtained the loan.



Important Reminder: When “Ameriquest” is referred to in this Web site, it includes the other companies involved in the Settlement. Therefore, if your loan meets the States’ criteria and it was obtained directly from Ameriquest Mortgage, Town and Country Credit Corp. or Bedford Home Loans during the applicable time period, you are eligible for a restitution payment.

5. If I no longer had the loan, was the loan still eligible for restitution?  (top)

If you had a loan eligible for restitution you could participate in the Settlement even if you no longer had the mortgage or own the home on which you obtained the mortgage, or if you were in default or foreclosure.

6.  If I no longer lived in the home my loan was for, was my loan still eligible for restitution?  (top)

Yes. If your loan was obtained directly from Ameriquest between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2005, and it met the requirements the States set to qualify for a restitution payment, it did not matter whether or not you still live in the home where you obtained the loan.

7. What if I signed my loan papers before December 31, 2005, but there was a delay and the money for the loan wasn’t paid or funded until after December 31, 2005?  Was this loan eligible for restitution?  (top)

No. To be eligible for restitution, the loan must have closed and funded during the January 1, 1999 to December 31, 2005 time period. No other loans are eligible.

8. Were loans obtained before January 1, 1999 or after December 31, 2005 included? (top)

No. The Settlement only covered loans obtained directly from Ameriquest between January 1, 1999 and December 31, 2005. For example, if you obtained one mortgage loan from Ameriquest in August of 1997, and another in August of 2000, only the August 2000 loan was eligible for a restitution payment, provided it met the criteria the States set.

9. Were loans eligible if they were transferred to Ameriquest for servicing? (top)

No. The Settlement only covered home mortgage and home equity loans obtained directly from Ameriquest. If you obtained a mortgage loan from another lender, but it was later sold or transferred to Ameriquest for servicing, you weren’t eligible for a restitution payment.

10. Were loans from Argent covered by the Settlement?  (top)

No. The Settlement only covered home mortgage and home equity loans obtained directly from Ameriquest, Bedford Home Loans, or Town and Country. A mortgage loan obtained from Argent or another lender did not qualify under the Settlement.

NOTICE OF ELIGIBILITY AND AMOUNT OF RESTITUTION PAYMENT


11. How do I know if I am eligible for a restitution payment?  (top)

Recently, Notice letters were sent to a small number of borrowers who are eligible to participate in the Settlement by returning a Release Form by March 22, 2011. The original Notice letters were mailed to eligible borrowers beginning the week of July 9, 2007. Notice Letters were mailed again in August 2007 to borrowers who had not submitted a Release Form. The Notice letter explained that participation in the Settlement was voluntary, and the minimum amount you would receive if you chose to participate. It also included a Release Form and Substitute W-9 Form that you must have signed and returned to the Settlement Administrator in order to have participated and received a restitution payment.

12. When were Notice letters and Release Forms sent?  (top)

Notice letters were mailed the week of July 9, 2007, and again in August of 2007 to borrowers who had not responded. On January 21, 2011, Notice letters were mailed to a small group of borrowers who are eligible to participate in the Settlement.

13. How much were borrowers offered through the Settlement?  (top)

Your Notice letter specified the minimum payment you would receive if you signed and returned the Release Form by September 10, 2007. The deadline for borrowers who received the Notice letter in January 2011 is March 22, 2011. Restitution payment amounts varied from borrower to borrower, depending on the terms of each loan and the criteria set by the borrower’s home State.

14. Why did the Notice letter only state the minimum restitution payment?  (top)

The payment amount in your Notice letter was the minimum amount you could receive if all eligible borrowers decided to participate in the Settlement and returned their Release Forms.

In addition, the money in the Settlement Fund was held in trust. Interest earned on the Fund was also made available for Distribution to borrowers. Therefore, it was possible that you could have received more than the “minimum amount” listed on your Notice letter.

15. When were restitution payments sent?  (top)

Checks were mailed to eligible borrowers who participated on December 14, 2007. For borrowers who received a Notice letter dated January 21, 2011, payments are expected to be made in mid-2011.

16. Were restitution payments taxable?  (top)

A Substitute W-9 Form was included with your Notice and Release packet. The Settlement Administrator is required by law to report this information to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). You may have also received an IRS form with your check, if your restitution amount was high enough to be reportable. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to pay taxes. Whether any restitution payment you received is taxable will depend on several factors. Neither the Settlement Administrator nor any of the States or Ameriquest can give you tax or other legal advice on this matter. If you have tax questions, you should contact a local tax preparer or advisor.

PARTICIPATION IN THE SETTLEMENT


17. What was required to obtain my restitution payment?  (top)

If you received a Notice letter in 2007, you must have signed and returned the Release and W-9 Forms, postmarked by September 10, 2007. If you received a Notice letter dated January 21, 2011, you must sign and return the Release and W-9 Forms, postmarked by March 22, 2011, to the following address:

Ameriquest Settlement Administrator
P.O. Box 1855
Faribault, MN 55021-7110

18. What was the deadline for returning Release Forms?  (top)

If you received a Notice letter in 2007, you must have signed and returned the Release and W-9 Forms, postmarked by September 10, 2007. If you received a Notice letter dated January 21, 2011, you must sign and return the Release and W-9 Forms, postmarked by March 22, 2011.

19. Could participation in the Settlement stop a foreclosure?  (top)

Participation in the Settlement by signing and returning the Release Form will NOT stop or undo a foreclosure. But remember, by signing and returning the Release Form you did not give up your right to fight any foreclosure proceedings, or to make any claims or defenses related to the Settlement in those proceedings.

20. If I participated in the Settlement and sent in my Release Form, do I still have to make payments on my loan?  (top)

Yes. While the Settlement gave you the opportunity to obtain a restitution payment, it doesn’t affect the status of your loan. You must continue to make your mortgage payments under the terms of your loan agreement.

21. What if I’ve filed or am thinking about filing for bankruptcy?  (top)

We’re not able to give you legal or other advice on this matter. If you have filed or are thinking about filing for bankruptcy, you should ask your bankruptcy attorney or the bankruptcy trustee whether your restitution payment or any claims you may have against Ameriquest need to be included in the bankruptcy filing.

22. What if I had more than one eligible Ameriquest loan?  (top)

If you had more than one eligible loan, you would have received separate Notice letters and Release Forms for each loan, each with its own minimum restitution payment amount.

EFFECT OF SIGNING THE RELEASE FORM


23. Can you give me a summary of what it means if I signed the Release Form?  (top)

When you signed the Release Form, you agreed to participate in the Settlement and receive a restitution payment. In return for your payment, you gave up some legal rights and choices you might otherwise have had. These rights are summarized below. Click on the underlined Question link for more detailed information about each right.

  1. You gave up all claims you have against Ameriquest about certain lending practices with respect to the mortgage loan that is listed on your Release Form, except for any claims you might have in a foreclosure proceeding (Question 24).  Please read Question 25 for a list of the lending practices that are included.

  2. You gave up the right to file your own lawsuit against Ameriquest about the listed lending practices. Remember, to bring your own individual lawsuit, you would have to hire your own lawyer (Question 26).

  3. You gave up the right to be part of a class action lawsuit against Ameriquest about the listed lending practices (Question 27).  Several lawsuits have already been filed against Ameriquest, but the courts in those cases, except for a state court in Minnesota, haven’t decided yet whether to allow them to go forward as class actions (Question 28).

  4. When you signed and returned the Release Form, your decision was Final. You can’t change your mind, even if you later decide you could get more money from your own lawsuit or by participating in a class action (Question 29).

Reminder: When “Ameriquest” is referred to in this Web site, it also includes the other companies involved in the Settlement -- ACC Capital Holdings Corp., Town and Country Credit Corp., and AMC Mortgage Services, Inc. (formerly doing business under the name Bedford Home Loans).

24. Can I still sue Ameriquest if I signed and returned the Release Form?  (top)

No. When you signed the Release Form, you forever “released” or gave up any claims you might otherwise have had against Ameriquest about any of the alleged unlawful lending practices investigated by the states with respect to the mortgage loan account that is listed on your Release Form -- with one exception. That exception is you did not give up any claim or defense you might have in response to a foreclosure regarding your loan. You can sue Ameriquest in order to raise any claims you might have regarding a loan in foreclosure.

In other words, if you have a loan that is eligible for restitution and you signed and returned the Release Form, you are not be able to file your own lawsuit or join another lawsuit (including a class action lawsuit) against Ameriquest about the lending practices the States investigated. This is true whether the lawsuit asks for money, or asks for other benefits, such as cancellation of your loan.  If you signed the Release Form, your restitution payment is the only thing you are entitled to from Ameriquest with respect to the loan, except for any claims you might have in a foreclosure. Please remember that you are not releasing any claims you might have with respect to any other loan with Ameriquest you may have obtained, if that loan is one that is not eligible for a restitution payment.

You can read the entire release in section VII of the Settlement Agreement by clicking here.

25. What lending practices were investigated by the States?  (top)

The lending practices that the States investigated are representations or misrepresentations, omissions, acts, or transactions relating to:

  1. Loan types and terms, including Discount points, interest rates, origination fees, monthly payment amounts, terms of adjustable rate and fixed-rate mortgages and prepayment penalties.

  2. Written Disclosures, including the good faith estimate, and other documents provided by Ameriquest to borrowers.

  3. The benefits of obtaining a loan or a repeat refinancing with Ameriquest.

  4. Coordination with debt collectors.

  5. The completion of underwriting and funding the loan on time.

  6. Loan closing.

  7. Appraisals.

  8. Stated income loans.

  9. Disclosures to non-English speaking borrowers and potential borrowers.

26. Can you explain what it means to give up my right to file my own lawsuit against Ameriquest?  (top)

If you signed and returned the Release Form, you cannot sue Ameriquest yourself about the lending practices investigated by the States with respect to any eligible loan. That means you gave up the potential to receive more money than your offered restitution payment. However, if you would have sued, there’s no guarantee you would win the lawsuit, or that you would receive more money.

27. Can you explain what it means to give up my right to be part of a class action lawsuit against Ameriquest?  (top)

If you signed the Release Form, you also gave up the right to be part of a class action lawsuit against Ameriquest about the lending practices investigated by the States with respect to any eligible loan.

In a class action lawsuit, one or more people sue on behalf of other people who have similar claims. The people together are a “class” or “class members.” The Court must first rule if it will allow the lawsuit to proceed as a class action. If it does, the class is “certified”, and the court then decides the lawsuit for everyone in the class. When a class is certified, whatever is decided applies to everyone in the class. The lawsuit is sometimes called a “purported” or “potential” class action until the Court decides that the lawsuit can go forward as a class action. In a class action, class members generally don’t have to pay the lawyers.

If the class action is successful, the lawyers’ fees and costs are usually either paid by the defendants or taken out of the money that is recovered. If the class action is not successful, the lawyers don’t get paid.

Giving up the right to be part of a class action lawsuit against Ameriquest means you are giving up the potential to receive more money than your offered restitution payment. However, there’s no guarantee that any class action lawsuit would be successful and that you would receive money. That depends on many factors, including whether the class action is certified by the court, whether you’re in fact a member of the class certified, and whether (and in what amount) any money is awarded to class members.

28. Have any class action lawsuits been filed against Ameriquest about the lending practices the States investigated?  (top)

Yes, other class action lawsuits have been filed and settled since the States Settlement was reached in 2006.

29. If I decided to participate and returned the Release Form, can I change my mind?  (top)

No. When you signed and returned the Release Form, your decision to participate was final. That’s true even if you later decide -- or someone tells you -- that that you could get more money than your restitution payment.

The same result is true if you chose not to sign the Release Form (or didn’t send the Release Form in on time). That decision is also final.

COMPLETING THE RELEASE FORM


30. If I have a co-borrower on my loan, do we both need to sign the Release Form?  (top)

Yes. Each person who signed the original loan documents needs to sign the Release Form, except in circumstances where a borrower’s signature cannot be obtained (such as divorce or separation, death, or where a co-borrower has a guardian). Where they are all available to sign, the restitution payment checks will be made payable to all co-borrowers.

31. What if I could not get my co-borrower’s signature because of circumstances such as divorce or separation?  (top)

In situations where one or more borrowers are unable or unavailable to sign the Release Form, attempts will be made to contact the missing borrowers. If the missing borrowers are not able to be contacted or decline to participate in the Settlement, the signing borrowers will be issued their portion of the restitution amount.

32. Is the information I sent kept confidential?  (top)

Yes. The Settlement Administrator has a responsibility to protect the privacy of all information you provided. The Administrator has the same responsibility to maintain confidentiality of loan information provided to it by Ameriquest. All of this information was used only to process Release Forms and make restitution payments.

GETTING MORE INFORMATION


33. I still have some questions. Who can I contact?  (top)

If you have additional questions about the Settlement, you can contact the Settlement Administrator by:

  • Calling toll-free 1-800-420-5875 (hearing impaired call 1-866-494-8274) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Central Time, Monday through Friday;

  • Sending an e-mail to info@ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com; or

  • Writing to: Ameriquest Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 1855, Faribault, MN 55021-7110
If you write, call or send an e-mail to the Settlement Administrator, be sure to include your full name, phone number, street address, city, state and zip code.

Please contact the Settlement Administrator directly, rather than the Attorney General’s Office or your state’s financial regulator.   If the Settlement Administrator is not able to answer your question, they will contact the appropriate agency in your home state.

34. How can I get more detailed information about the terms of the Settlement? (top)

You can read the entire Settlement Agreement on this Web site by clicking here.


Restitution Payment Information



Getting More Information




 

RESTITUTION PAYMENT INFORMATION FOR PAYMENTS ISSUED TO BORROWERS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE SETTLEMENT IN 2007 AND 2008


1. Did the check amounts go up? (top)

The original amount that was on your Release Form was the minimum amount that you could receive under the settlement. This number was calculated based on the assumption that every eligible borrower would accept the settlement offer and it did not include the interest that was accumulated. Once processing was completed and the number of borrowers accepting the settlement offer was known, this number was recalculated. The new amount adds all the unclaimed restitution awards and the interest earned since the Settlement account was established back into the pool of dollars. The only change is to redistribute the pool of dollars to the borrowers who did accept the Settlement. There was no change to the criteria that the States set up to determine eligibility for a restitution payment.

2. Why was my amount split? (top)

In some situations we were not provided signatures of all borrowers OR we were informed that the payment needed to be split due to a divorce or separation situation. In those situations, borrowers were only entitled to their equal portion of the restitution, regardless of the current property ownership status.

This means that even if a divorce decree or title document provides ownership of the property to one individual, all individuals who were borrowers on the original loan are entitled to a share of the restitution offered for that loan under the Settlement.

If you can’t cash a check because you are unable to get the endorsement of another borrower, please return the check with an explanation of your situation and the current addresses of all borrowers listed. Please include your current telephone number in the event we need to contact you to get additional information.

3. What happened to the money not claimed by Eligible borrowers? (top)

It was distributed to the eligible borrowers who submitted Release Forms. The original amount that was on your Release Form was the minimum amount that you could receive under the settlement. This number was calculated based on the assumption that every eligible borrower would accept the settlement offer and it did not include the interest that was accumulated. Once processing was completed and the number of borrowers accepting the settlement offer was known, this number was recalculated. The new amount adds all the unclaimed restitution awards and the interest earned since the Settlement account was established back into the pool of dollars. Keep in mind, there is no change to the criteria that the States set up to determine eligibility for a restitution payment. The only change is to redistribute the pool of dollars among the borrowers who did submit a valid Release Form.

4. Who gets the interest generated by the settlement fund? (top)

The interest generated by the Settlement Fund was Distributed to the borrowers that submitted a valid and timely Release Form. This is one of the factors that caused an increase in the amount of the check from what was originally printed on the Release Form.

5. I had more than one loan eligible for restitution, why did I only receive one check? (top)

If you submitted a valid Release Form for more than one loan number, your check represents the payment for all of your loans, unless there were different borrowers on each of your loans. For purposes of tax reporting, the Settlement Administrator needed to roll the restitution amounts into one check per borrower or borrowers.

6. How long do I have to cash my check? (top)

Consumers who received checks from the settlement will have 90 days from date of issue to cash their check.

7. My check cashing service or bank needs to verify the check. What should I do? (top)

You may have your bank or check cashing service call the Settlement Administrator at 1-800-420-5875 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Central Time, Monday through Friday to verify the name and address on the check. You will need to verify your identity when presenting the check to the bank.

8. Why did I receive a Form 1099/1098 with my payment? (top)

We are required by law to report your award to the IRS. We cannot advise you as to whether this has tax consequences for you. Please contact your tax advisor.

The amount printed on the tax form may not be the same as the amount of your payment. If you see that the amount of your check is higher than the amount printed on the tax forms you received, this is not an error. It simply means that only a portion of the award you received is reportable under State and Federal Tax laws. You will not receive a separate tax form for the difference.

9. Why did I receive a rejection letter? (top)

If you received a rejection letter, your claim was rejected due to one (or more) of the following reasons:

Claim deficiency – Your claim was not signed by all borrowers. A follow-up letter was sent, asking for the signature(s), but we did not receive any reply.

Untimely – Your claim was not postmarked by September 10, 2007.

10. Is there any way to appeal the denial of my claim? (top)

No. At this time, all denials are final and there is no process to appeal the rejection.

11. I received a check with my ex-spouse’s name on it; I cannot get their signature / we need the check split, what do I do need to do? (top)

Please void and return the check with an explanation of the problem, along with the names and current addresses of the people to whom the checks should be sent. Your submission will be reviewed and if more information is needed in order to issue new checks, you will be contacted. Please include your current telephone number with your submission as well.

12. My check has expired; can I get a new check? (top)

You may request that we reissue the check. We will need you to mail the check back to us at Ameriquest Multi State Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1855, Faribault, MN 55021-7110. Please write VOID on the check before mailing. Once we receive the returned check, we will reissue with a new expiration date. Please allow 4-6 weeks for the reissue.

13.  I lost my check/destroyed my check, can I get a new check? (top)

You may request that we reissue the check. If you have the check in your possession, we will need you to mail the check back to us at Ameriquest Multi State Settlement Administrator, PO Box 1855, Faribault, MN 55021-7110. Please write VOID on the check before mailing. Once we receive the returned check, we will reissue with a new expiration date. If you do not have the check, we will stop payment on the check that has been issued and send you a new check. Please allow 4-6 weeks for the reissue.

14.  The check was made payable to the estate of ________. The estate is closed and cannot cash this, what do I need to do? (top)

If your bank will not cash your payment, you need to return the payment to the Settlement Administrator. Please write void on the payment and include a note explaining why the payment needs to be reissued. Please also include a copy of the death certificate, or documents that show your authority to receive the payment. The Settlement Administrator will review your documentation and make a decision as to whether payment will be reissued or if any additional information is needed.


GETTING MORE INFORMATION


15. I still have some questions. Who can I contact? (top)

If you have additional questions about the Settlement, you can contact the Settlement Administrator by:

  • Calling toll-free 1-800-420-5875 (hearing impaired call 1-866-494-8274) between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., Central Time, Monday through Friday;

  • Sending an e-mail to info@ameriquestmultistatesettlement.com; or

  • Writing to: Ameriquest Settlement Administrator, P.O. Box 1855, Faribault, MN 55021-7110
If you write, call or send an e-mail to the Settlement Administrator, be sure to include your full name, phone number, street address, city, state and zip code.

Please contact the Settlement Administrator directly, rather than the Attorney General’s Office or your state’s financial regulator . If the Settlement Administrator is not able to answer your question, they will contact the appropriate agency in your home state.