OK Attorney General Issues Mortgage Settlement Payouts

Monday, October 15th 2012, 8:11 pm
By: News 9

There's some relief for Oklahoma homeowners as the Attorney General's Office issues the first round of settlement payouts to families who lost their homes during the mortgage crisis.

Oklahoma was the only state to settle its own agreement with five national mortgage companies. It's all part of the Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund.

Earlier this year Attorney General Scott Pruitt reached an $18.6 million settlement with five major lenders. Now that money is going back to Oklahomans victimized during the foreclosure process.

Zach and Melissa Zuniga's lives were turned upside down after their bank approved them for a mortgage modification program in 2009.

They were making payments but the bank lost paperwork and could never tell them which department was handling their loan..

"We felt like we were in a corner," said Zach Zuniga."We had no way of getting out of it. We tried many, many times calling the creditor, the bank."

The bank foreclosed on their house and sold it, a devastating loss for their family of five.

Zuniga had lived there for more than 20 years.

"Real harm occurred to Oklahomans across the state," Attorney General Scott Pruitt said.

The Zunigas weren't alone. More than 700 families submitted claims to the AG's office, which launched its own investigation in August 2010.

In February, Attorney General Pruitt reached an agreement with the lenders to settle claims of unfair banking practices.

"We cannot give them back their home, but what we can do is provide them a measure of relief, penalties, monies that will assist them on the next stage of their life," Pruitt said.

It's relief for families like the Zunigas. They received $20,000 in compensation.

"If if this helps us put a down payment for something on a house then we'll use it for that," Melissa Zuniga said.

The Zunigas have another baby on the way, and they told me they're hoping to move out of the home they're renting into one of their own again by the beginning of the year.

More 100 claims have been approved so far. The average payment is $11,000.

Other mortgage aid programs through the AG's office are receiving money through The Oklahoma Mortgage Settlement Fund.