Families whose homes have been damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Charley or Tropical Storm Bonnie can seek mortgage relief designed to protect their credit ratings and financial interests in their homes, Freddie Mac announced Monday.

Freddie Mac is encouraging its servicers to provide borrowers with relief through the company’s disaster relief guidelines, which give them the discretion to reduce or suspend mortgage payments for up to 12 months for borrowers whose mortgages are owned by Freddie Mac. Each case will be individually assessed to determine which alternative will best fit the homeowner’s circumstances.

In addition, Freddie Mac is strongly encouraging mortgage servicers to waive the assessment of penalties or late fees against borrowers with disaster-damaged homes; not report forbearance or delinquencies caused by the disaster to the nation’s credit bureaus; and expedite the release of insurance proceeds.

For more information on mortgage payment relief, homeowners should contact their mortgage servicer – the company to which they send their monthly mortgage payment – or call Freddie Mac at 800-FREDDIE.

Freddie Mac (NYSE: FRE) is a stockholder-owned corporation chartered by Congress in 1970 to create a continuous flow of funds to mortgage lenders in support of home ownership and rental housing.

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