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Big Settlement For Those Illegally Charged For Mortgage Loans

August 14, 2003

By Connie Thompson

Video : KOMO 4 NEWS

12,000 loan customers may get their money back as part of a $21 million settlement against the company most people know as Household Finance.

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SEATTLE - It's pay back time for thousands of local families who were illegally charged for mortgage loans.

As of Thursday, 12,000 loan customers may get their money back.

It's part of a $21 million settlement against the company most people know as Household Finance.

The settlement means justice for loan customers like the Dodge family in Blaine. KOMO 4 News first reported in Nov. of 2001 how they nearly lost their home, trying to get a simple loan for repairs.

Before they knew it, one small loan became two big ones. They say they were fast-talked into a $100,000 refinance at nearly 12 percent interest -- and a $15,000 line of credit at nearly 25 percent interest.

"By the time we were through we didn't even know which end was up," said Corey Dodge.

State investigators say it was a company-organized scheme of predatory lending. And their case against Household here played a major role in getting back money for victims in every state.

How much will they get?

"It's a range of a very small number, around $11 or $12 dollars, all the way up to around $25,000," said Chuck Cross of the State Department of Financial Institutions.

It depends on the loan, but if you got a mortgage loan from HFC, Beneficial Finance, or Household Realty Corporation between January of 1999 and September of 2002, you could be eligible to get some of the settlement money.

"We'll be sending out notices to consumers who were affected, saying this is the amount of money you'll receive back, should you choose to accept this settlement," Cross said.

The $21 million is our state's share of a $484 million settlement reached in October. It's taken this long to figure out how to get money back to victims.

To find out if you're eligible to take part in the settlement, call the Household settlement administrator at 1-888-780-2156 or go to www.wa.gov

or www.household-beneficial-settlement.com.

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For the amount of (alleged) illegal activity this lender has done, and the intense damage to people's lives it has caused this is a joke.

This was no doubt a "behind closed doors" deal between the two parties. Satisfy your constituency, keep Household in business and keep their campaign contribution coming. Here's why:

Household has been named as the culprit in people losing their homes (40% in the Chicago area alone), the victims often the elderly and poor. They have (allegedly) falsified applications (I know of one--our own), shredded documents ala Watergate, etc. etc. Even $25000 won't come close to what has been done to some people. There are stories out there that would break your heart.

The nasty arbitration clause that a CA judge called totally absurd and just short of illegality, remains. So do a number of other practices.

And the clincher: Unless Household is your primary mortgage holder, you won't see a penny. So all those who have secondary mortgages with them or got their very dubiously named "equity line of credit" will just have to continue stewing over the injustice of it all.

I don't mean to sound so b*****, but things aren't always as good as what they appear to be on the surface. If anyone is up to reading 66 pages of Washington State's investigation, go to:

It can be read as HTML. If there is troubling accessing it, let me know I'll try to help.

I can see why so many think this is a victory; it is pacification and a means for politicians to say "See, we helped you guys out. Now you can re-elect us". Sorry but I have been in this world for over 50 years and learned more then I ever wanted to know.

If you or I did anything like this company, we would be in a federal pen right now. Money talks, and always will.

Thanks for letting me vent. Holding this inside makes me very ill.

"Sometimes anger is good for the heart"

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