by Alan McBride

TALLAHASSEE, FLA. -- Attorney General Pam Bondi's office is reminding eligible Florida borrowers that the January 18 deadline to file a claim for payment under the national settlement is fast approaching.

According to a release from Bondi's office, with the deadline looming Friday, roughly half the people to whom notices have been sent have not filed claims.

Eligible borrowers include those who lost their homes to foreclosure between Jan. 1, 2008 and Dec. 31, 2011 and had mortgages serviced by Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and Wells Fargo, according to the Attorney General's office.

Officials noted that forms have been mailed to qualified borrowers, and they must be completed and returned by Friday in the envelope provided, or they can be filed online at www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com.

Claims received after January 18th may be considered, but payment to those claimants is not guaranteed.

Bondi's office says the amount of the payment will be the same for all claimants, and will depend on the number of eligible claims received.

Payments will be a minimum of $840, but higher payments to each eligible consumer are expected.

Payment checks are expected to be mailed in mid-2013.

The claims are the result of a $25 billion settlement between the nation's five largest mortgage servicers and the federal government and 49 states and the District of Columbia.

In Florida, approximately $170 million is available for cash payments to Florida borrowers.

Officials say all available funds will be distributed to those who file claims; none of the money will be returned to the banks or used by the states for any other purpose.