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Countrywide to refund thousands of NC customers

Nearly five thousand North Carolina homeowners will soon get a check in the mail from Countrywide Financial worth about $2,000. The checks will probably come as a surprise to many homeowners who don't know they were overcharged by Countrywide. The North Carolina Commissioner of Banks spent a year investigating the lender's practices, and Deputy Commissioner Mark Pearce says they found evidence of wrongdoing: "We're not in the business of determining whether they intended to or not," says Pearce. "What we look at is were borrowers harmed and charged in excess of North Carolina law. And for 3,800 first mortgage loans and about a thousand second mortgage loans, we believe that to be the case." Rather than fight the charges in court, Countrywide Financial has agreed to refund $11.5 million and make another $2 million in grants to nonprofits that help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Pearce says it's the largest settlement the North Carolina Commissioner of Banks has ever reached with a mortgage company related to their lending practices. Homeowners should get their refund checks within 60 days.