It's not every day you have to beg people to accept money, but Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi is doing just that.
"Please, please, take advantage of this money," she said.
Bondi helped negotiate a $25 billion nationwide foreclosure fraud settlement with five banks. The banks are accused of making loans they knew borrowers couldn't afford, and then using illegal practices to snatch houses in foreclosure.
Florida received about $8 billion in the settlement. Of that, $170 million was set aside for cash payments to those who lost their homes with those banks. But only about half of those eligible for the money have applied.
"You could be entitled to up to several thousand dollars," Bondi said.
In order to qualify, you must have lost your home between January of 2008 and December of 2011, and your mortgage must have been with one of these 5 banks.
Since Bondi's Tampa visit last week, the number of homeowners applying is ticking up, but time is running out. The deadline is Feb. 15.
Foreclosure defense attorney Charles Gallagher says many people aren't applying because they don't believe the offer. "I think people are leery of anything that comes on a bank letterhead. There have been so many offers of help that have never been successful," he said.
Gallagher says he recommends anyone who was foreclosed on during this time period apply for the money. You may qualify and not even know it.
"Whether it's enough to compensate people for losing their home, absolutely not," Gallagher said. "I think it falls far short of being appropriate, but none-the-less, it's worth at least a glossing of the application period."
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