$125,000 for your trouble? It's certainly worth asking for

Rubber band around rolled up money

If your mortgage servicer cheated you or made promises it didn't keep after you fell behind on your loan payments during the foreclosure crisis, you could be in for a payday.

The catch?

You have to ask for the money -- or more specifically, you have to fill out a form asking for a review of your case.

If it turns out that your mortgage servicer didn’t follow the rules, the least you’ll get is a new and improved credit report and the most is a check for $125,000.

The "independent foreclosure review" sounds like something a scammer cooked up, but it’s a real deal that 27 mortgage servicers made with the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

There’s a website (IndependentForeclosureReview.com) where you can read the fine print, but here’s the bottom line.

These three things qualify you for a review:

Somewhere around 4.4 million homeowners meet those three requirements, but only just over 200,000 of them have asked for a review.

A Government Accounting Office report said the reason so few people have asked for a review is that the letter that everyone was sent is too hard to read, the website explaining the deal is too hard to read and the form you use to ask for the review is -- you guessed it -- too hard to read.

The GAO is right.

But I’m not buying that this is why so few people are signing up. Instead, I think there are two groups of people ignoring the case review offer for completely different reasons.

One group is completely burned out because they got a ton of junk mail from ripoff companies after their mortgage servicer filed foreclosure.

If you’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket, you know the kind of mail I’m talking about -- dozens of letters from attorneys offering to represent you. In a default proceeding, you also get dozens of letters and calls from scammers promising to save your house if you send them a check.

Group No. 2 is people who got foreclosed on because they didn’t pay their loan and didn’t have enough income to pay even a reduced monthly payment.

They’re like a guy I knew in Miami who lied about his income on a mortgage application to get a condo he couldn’t afford, never made a single payment and then lived in the condo for three years while the Florida court system ground away.

If you’re in that first group, I hope you’ll fill out the form and ask for a review.

It’s not like you had to lose your house to collect.

You could also get a payment if:

On the other hand, if you’re like the guy I knew in Miami, then I sure hope you don’t ask for a review. You don’t deserve a second windfall.

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