Refunds en route to homeowners

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 24, 2003

RALEIGH – Starting Dec. 16, refund checks totaling $11 million will be mailed to North Carolina consumers with Household or Beneficial Finance home loans in the nation’s largest such settlement, Attorney General Roy Cooper announced.

&uot;Homeowners deserved their money back and now they’ll get it,&uot; said Cooper, who helped win the national settlement last year.

&uot;Even more important, consumers now have better access to credit on fair terms because this settlement raises the bar for mortgage lenders everywhere.&uot;

In North Carolina, 22,946 consumers who borrowed from Household will share in the state’s $11 million portion of the landmark national settlement. Consumers with second mortgage loans of $25,000 or greater or first mortgage loans will get a pro rata share of the settlement fund depending on the size of their initial loan.

Approximately 2,000 consumers will get refunds of more than $1,000, with more than 5,000 receiving refunds of $500 or more.

The average refund will be $480.

Consumers who had a second mortgage loan of less than $25,000 should see refunds of $100.

Refund checks should arrive in consumers’ mailboxes before the end of the year.

Customers who have questions about the settlement payment procedures can call a toll-free number,

(888)780-2156, or visit the settlement administrator online at All North Carolina borrowers who took out a home loan directly from Household or Beneficial between January 1999 and September 2002 were qualified to file for refunds.

The refunds are the result of the largest ever national consumer settlement by the states.

It was crafted by Cooper, other attorneys general and state banking regulators to resolve unfair and deceptive lending claims against mortgage lender Household International. North Carolina and the other states alleged that Household imposed excessive fees, prepayment penalties and credit insurance on their loans while misleading consumers about the costs of the loans.

Under the settlement, finalized in December 2002, Household agreed to pay $484 million dollars to consumers and to reform its lending operations.

Court injunctions in place in all 50 states restrict prepayment penalties, prohibit &uot;flipping,&uot; limit up-front points and origination fees, and improve disclosures on

current Household loans.

Much of the settlement language mirrors North Carolina’s predatory lending laws, which Cooper pushed into law as a state senator.

&uot;By agreeing to change its practices, Household helped set a higher standard for the mortgage lending industry,&uot; said Cooper.

&uot;I’ll keep working with other states and the FTC to get rid of predatory lending and to make sure that lenders treat consumers fairly.&uot;