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U.S. faults 3 lenders on mortgage aid

The Obama administration is blaming the three largest U.S. mortgage lenders for the failures of its foreclosure-prevention program. It says they've done little to help people at risk of losing their homes.

Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have failed to help enough people permanently lower their mortgage payments so they can stay in their homes, the Treasury Department said Thursday.

Based on those lenders' lackluster success for the first three months of 2011, the government is withholding financial incentives that amounted to up to $1,000 per permanent loan modification. Treasury said the three lenders incorrectly determined that many people were ineligible for the program.

The lenders are disputing the data. They say the findings are based on old reports, not audits from the first quarter of the year as Treasury claimed. One of them, Wells Fargo, is formally appealing the government's decision to cut off its incentives.

More than 1.6 million troubled homeowners received trial modifications over the past two years. Roughly 44 percent of those who applied have had their mortgage permanently lowered as of April. ---- AP

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