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JPMorgan Chase offers special relief for military mortgages

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JPMorgan Chase (JPM) is starting a variety of mortgage assistance programs for military personnel, and pledged to not foreclose on any service member on active duty. In January, news surfaced that the bank overcharged roughly 4,000 troops on their mortgages and even improperly foreclosed on 14 military families. Since then, the bank moved quickly to correct the problems and will start the new programs in April. A spokesman for Chase said the bank resolved most of the foreclosure cases. For those that have not been sold through foreclosure yet, the sales have been rescinded. There may be possible settlements for those whose homes have already been sold, but the spokesman could not immediately confirm. Beginning April 1, Chase will put in place a rebate program that will lower eligible borrowers' effective mortgage interest rate to 4% while on active duty and for a year afterward. That's two percentage points lower than is required by law. Another modification program will launch in April and will be offered to military personnel who have served on active duty at some point since Sept. 11, 2001. Chase said the program will go beyond the Home Affordable Modification Program requirements. The bank said it would also modify the second lien if needed to an interest rate as low as 1%. "This company has a great history of honoring military and veterans, and the mistakes we made on military foreclosures are a painful aberration on that track record. We deeply apologize to our military customers and their families for these mistakes. We cannot undo them, but we can take accountability for them, fix them and learn from them," said Chase CEO Jaime Dimon. In addition to the programs, Chase will donate 1,000 homes to military and veterans over the next five years and by the end of the year will open five new homeownership centers near 10 large military bases. Chase said it will also work with other companies in a commitment to hire 100,000 military and veterans over the next 10 years. The bank said it has already received commitments from other partners. The bank worked with Syracuse University to offer a technology education certificate for veterans, and it said it will recruit from this school to fill more roles within the company. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter: @JonAPrior

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