Me and a KOMO cameraman watch Rob McKenna deliver important consumer information about home mortgage modifications.
  • Goldy | The Stranger
  • Me and a KOMO cameraman watch Rob McKenna deliver important consumer information about home mortgage modifications.

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Attorney General Rob McKenna held a press conference today in his official capacity as our official Attorney General, and surprise: We at The Stranger weren't invited! But friendly colleagues forwarded us the email, and under the terms of our current agreement with Solicitor General Maureen Hart, I was politely let in, and prominently seated in the front row, just spitting distance from McKenna.

Good thing, too, because it wouldn't be much of a press conference without, you know, press, and apart from me, a KOMO-TV cameraman, and some young woman with a notepad who arrived halfway through, the rest of the political press corps was noticeably absent. Hmm. McKenna's staff might want to loosen up on that media blacklist thing if they want reporters to show up and give him any non-shut-up-and-speak-English-#asians-related coverage.

Which is a shame, because McKenna had some important information to share. He and Solid Ground advocacy director Tony Lee told homeowners about mortgage modification and foreclosure restitution opportunities that are now available under the terms of a recent $25 billion nationwide settlement with the country's five biggest lenders.

They also had good advice for homeowners facing foreclosure: Seek help from this directory of approved not-for-profit housing counseling agencies or contact the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline (call 1.877.894.HOME). "A higher percentage of people who ask for help manage to stay in their home," advises McKenna.

With 1 in 1,100 King County homeowners receiving foreclosure notices every month, there are plenty of outfits out there preying on desperate homeowners, flooding some families mailboxes with a official looking documents that threaten imminent foreclosure and/or promise instant relief. Don't fall for it!

Just one of the many deceptive notices mailed to Washington homeowners.
  • Just one of the many deceptive notices mailed to Washington homeowners.

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That said, the five lenders that are party to the settlement—Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Chase Mortgage, CitiMortgate, and GMAC—are in the midst of notifying eligible borrowers of the programs available to them under the terms of the settlement, including principal reductions and loan modifications. But banks are reporting that many borrowers aren't responding, perhaps discarding these notices along with the flood of deceptive offers they've been getting in the mail.

If you're under water, you're behind on your payments, or you're facing foreclosure, look for a notice from your lender. And if you have any questions, call the Homeownership Hotline (1.877.894.HOME). That's McKena's legitimately worthy message from today's press conference (assuming any other press had showed up to pass it along).

Also, if you've already been foreclosed upon between January 2008 and December 2011, you may be eligible for restitution—between $1,500 and $2,000, depending how many people participate. But you'll have to file a claim, so look for your notice coming from the AG's office in the fall.

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