Former Countrywide mortgage customers could claim settlement

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A big announcement Thursday could mean thousands of dollars for Hoosiers. It's a settlement for mortgage fraud.

This is a major settlement between the Department of Justice and Countrywide Financial Corporation over discriminatory lending practices. If you are black or Hispanic and received a loan through Countrywide between 2004 and 2008, you could receive anywhere from $3,000 to $20,000 depending on the amount of the loan and the severity of the suffering. But there is only one month left to claim the money.

U.S. Attorney Joseph Hogsett made the plea Thursday at a news conference. Indiana identified nearly 1,400 victims. While many have already come forward, the state is still seeking 450 more people primarily located in the Indianapolis metro area.

Between the years of 2004 and 2008, Countrywide is accused of discriminating against more than 200,000 blacks and Hispanics nationwide by charging borrowers higher fees and interest rates than whites with the same qualifiers. The complaint also states Countrywide steered thousands of minorities into subprime mortgages when whites with similar credit profiles received prime loans.

"This constitutes systemic racial discrimination. It is wrong and these unfair lending practices did not just tear apart families and communities, they in fact denied thousands of Hoosiers a fair shot, a fair chance at the American dream - home ownership," said Hogsett.

Hogsett went on to say don't wait until tomorrow or next week. To see if you qualify for a claim, call 1-800-843-5148. The deadline to claim a piece of this $335 million settlement is March 29. That's just one month away.