In a deal meant to stave off home foreclosures, as many as 57,000 Florida homeowners could get $1-billion in relief from Countrywide Financial.
The nation's largest mortgage lender, recently bought by Bank of America, settled "predatory lending" lawsuits with 11 states and will give back nearly $9-billion to Countrywide customers.
Attorney General Bill McCollum's office said the lender will spend the next couple of months narrowing down eligible candidates in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere. In most cases, the lender would move homeowners from adjustable-rate mortgages into fixed-rate loans. Countrywide also will waive normal refinancing fees and penalties, and promised to halt foreclosure proceedings, at least temporarily, on eligible loans in Florida.
Florida's lawsuit alleged Countrywide put people in mortgages they couldn't afford and misled them about rates and penalties.
The settlement came as Bank of America reported its third-quarter results Monday, earlier than planned, revealing a 68 percent drop in profit. It plans to boost capital by selling stock and halving its dividend.
Like most other major financial institutions, Bank of America has been hit by significant losses in mortgages, credit cards and other souring debt.
James Thorner can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 226-3313. Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.