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Press Release

February 9, 2012

Department of Financial Services Launching Statewide Foreclosure Relief Effort

Foreclosure Prevention Specialists on Ground in Long Island Foreclosure Hotspot

New Toll-Free Foreclosure Hotline Available

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of Financial Services, today launched a statewide effort to stem mortgage foreclosures by helping homeowners at risk of losing their homes. The Cuomo Administration initiative began Thursday in Suffolk County, which has the highest number of home foreclosures in New York State, where Superintendent Lawsky was joined by State Senator Lee M. Zeldin, Assemblyman Phil Ramos and other elected officials.

“Governor Cuomo has directed the Department of Financial Services to assist homeowners dealing with foreclosure or the risk of foreclosure,” Superintendent Lawsky said. “Starting today, we will send staff and our command center wherever foreclosures are the biggest problem so we can be on the ground helping New Yorkers. Our message to homeowners is seek help as soon as you have a problem. The longer you wait, the harder it may be save your home.”

Department specialists are staffing the Department’s Mobile Command Center from 8 a.m. through 7 p.m., Thursday at the Marketplace at Brentwood at 101 Wicks Rd. in Brentwood, Town of Islip.

Specialists can assess where homeowners are in the pre-foreclosure or foreclosure process and advise homeowners with respect to:

·    Providing information about specific loan modifications available under federal law.
·    Channeling aggrieved or abused homeowners to programs and agencies which are actively engaged in pursuing claims related to mortgage servicer abuses.

The Department also initiated a new foreclosure hotline, 1-800-269-0990 or 518-457-1654, open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. In addition, homeowners can file complaints on the Department website, www.dfs.ny.gov.

“We will do whatever we can to help New Yorkers struggling to save their homes. The hotline will be used to help homeowners understand how to protect their interests. We will also accept complaints by phone or on the Internet from homeowners who believe they were subjected to lender or mortgage servicer abuses so the Department can investigate,” Superintendent Lawsky said.

State Senator Lee M. Zeldin said: “This Mobile Command Unit will hopefully provide much needed assistance to my constituents who are struggling with foreclosure. I am very pleased that the Department of Financial Services will be offering its services in my district and I want to especially thank Superintendent Lawsky for his partnership and leadership in initiating this very important effort. It is critical that we do everything we can to help our neighbors avoid losing their homes and I encourage everyone affected by the devastating foreclosure crisis to take advantage of this unique opportunity.”

Assemblyman Phil Ramos said: "Far too many families have seen the dream of owning a home turn into a nightmare as a result of our current economic situation and predatory lending practices. I’m glad to see the New York State Department of Financial Services step in to provide some much-needed assistance to hardworking Suffolk families to keep them where they belong – in their homes.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said: “Creating a mechanism to bring foreclosure assistance resources to communities heavily affected by foreclosures makes absolute sense. It is imperative that we increase the knowledge base of those who are in the pre-foreclosure or foreclosure process and provide tools to assist them in keeping their homes.  I applaud the Governor for his out of the box thinking and look forward to decreasing the tide of foreclosures within Suffolk County and throughout the State.”

State Senator Joseph Griffo, Chair of the Senate Banks Committee, said: "I would strongly encourage any homeowner who believes that he or she is at risk of foreclosure, or already in the foreclosure process, to seek help from the Department of Financial Services. Foreclosure can be a stressful time and a financial drain. There is help for homeowners to understand the foreclosure process, refer them to resources where they may be able to get additional help, and very importantly, receive and investigate complaints from homeowners who believe they were subjected to abusive mortgage practices."

Assemblymember Annette Robinson said, "The Governor's initiative to assist homeowners who are at risk of foreclosure provides a sense of hope that government cares."

Governor Cuomo announced the formation of the foreclosure relief unit within the Department of Financial Services last month in his State of the State address.

The Department is developing a schedule for mortgage foreclosure specialists to visit other locations in the state using the mobile command center, a 36-foot-long van equipped with computers and communications systems.

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