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Press Release

October 18, 2012

CUOMO ADMINISTRATION FORECLOSURE PREVENTION EFFORT TO PARTICIPATE IN FREE LEGAL GUIDANCE PROGRAM IN MINEOLA

Foreclosure Prevention Assistance From Department Will Be Part of Pro Bono Legal FAIR Sponsored by Nassau County Bar and Nassau/Suffolk Law Services

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the Department of Financial Services will participate with the Nassau County Bar Association and Nassau/Suffolk Law Services to provide free legal guidance to Nassau County residents struggling with such issues as mortgage foreclosure, bankruptcy, consumer debt, immigration, divorce and family issues.

Sponsored by the Bar Association and Nassau/Suffolk Law Services, the Pro Bono Legal FAIR (Free Assistance, Information and Referral) will be held Thursday, October 25 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Bar Association’s headquarters at the corner of 15th and West Streets in Mineola.

Registration is required. Homeowners may be registered by calling 516-747-4070. Assistance from bilingual attorneys fluent in Spanish, Russian, Haitian Creole, Korean, Chinese, Hindi and other languages may be requested when registering.

The Department will participate in the Pro Bono Legal FAIR as part of its ongoing foreclosure prevention program, which is aimed at providing assistance to homeowners in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure.

Governor Cuomo said "It is essential that we provide as much help as possible to financially-troubled homeowners. The objective is to provide direct help to homeowners and get the word out to others that it’s important to ask for help as quickly as possible. The longer a homeowner waits, the harder it may be to save a home."

Governor Cuomo directed the Department of Financial Services (DFS) to launch the foreclosure prevention program in January as a means of extending help to homeowners in foreclosure or at risk of foreclosure. Since then, the program has visited more than a dozen sites with high foreclosure rates throughout the state.

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, said: “It’s important that homeowners who start to see financial problems know that there are more options available to them if they act sooner, rather than later. The foreclosure prevention program allows homeowners to meet one-on-one with foreclosure prevention specialists who are knowledgeable and can offer practical guidance.”

Marian Rice, president of the Nassau County Bar Association, said: “Far too many people are facing foreclosure because of joblessness and other economic hardships. It’s important for these homeowners to reach out for help as soon as possible. We appreciate Governor Cuomo’s strong commitment to helping homeowners facing this kind of difficult situation.”

State Resources Available to Homeowners

The state’s foreclosure prevention program enables homeowners to have confidential meetings with DFS foreclosure specialists who assess where homeowners are in the pre-foreclosure or foreclosure process. Depending on individuals’ specific situations, the specialists may offer homeowners assistance in such areas as:

· Applying for mortgage modifications or providing help to homeowners who have already sought mortgage modifications.

· Interceding on behalf of homeowners with their mortgage lenders or servicers.

· Assisting homeowners in communicating with mortgage lenders or servicers.

· Accepting complaints from homeowners who believe they were victimized by mortgage lending abuses, so complaints can be investigated by the Department.

U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) approved housing counselors will also be available to offer assistance to homeowners.

Homeowners unable to meet personally with foreclosure prevention specialists are urged to the call the Department’s toll-free foreclosure hotline, 1-800-269-0990 or 518-457-1654, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Homeowners may also file complaints using the Department website, www.dfs.ny.gov.

The Department urged homeowners to be wary of mortgage rescue scams, which may be marketed by private businesses. For example, the Department said homeowners should:

· Be wary of anyone asking for an upfront fee in exchange for getting a loan modification, saving a home from default or stopping a foreclosure or tax sale. New York law prohibits the collection of such fees in most cases. Also, many not-for-profit housing counselors will help homeowners negotiate with lenders for free.

· Be wary of anyone who says they can save a home if a homeowner signs or transfers the deed to his or her house over to them so the homeowner can catch up on mortgage payments or refinance a loan. A homeowner should never submit mortgage payments to anyone other than the homeowner’s mortgage company without its approval.

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