The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), is alerting homeowners to resources that will help them avoid being victimized by unscrupulous companies conducting mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams.
Information about individual foreclosures is publicly available, with anyone able to access information such as the owner’s name and address, and in some states, other sensitive information. This means that homeowners in foreclosure can become the target of mortgage loan scammers who seek to take advantage of their situation. The Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline, 1-888-995-HOPE, is a central point of contact for homeowners who think they may be a victim of a scam.
“One of the most devastating aspects of the current financial crisis for homeowners is the prospect of losing their homes to foreclosure, and to add to their distress, many homeowners have fallen victim to foreclosure help scams,” said Colleen Hernandez, CEO of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation.
HPF has formed a coalition with NeighborWorks America, HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to curb foreclosure rescue scams. The Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline has a dedicated team trained specifically to take information on reported foreclosure scams and work with homeowners to address any financial issues. This information is used by local, state, and federal agencies to shut down unscrupulous organizations.
Scams aren’t always easy to spot – but it helps if to know what to look for. Here are Six Warning Signs of a Foreclosure Scam:
– A company/person asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance or reinstate your mortgage. They may pocket your money and do nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.
– A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. NO ONE can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies can assist you with options and facilitate communication with your mortgage company.
– A company/person advises you to stop paying your mortgage company and pay them instead. Despite what a scammer will tell you, you should never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender. If you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender or call the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline.
– A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven’t read or you don’t fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor should not and will not pressure you to sign a document of any kind.
– A company claims to offer “government-approved” or “official government” loan modifications. These may be scam artists pretending to be legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with the government. Check to be sure by contacting your mortgage lender directly or by calling the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline.
– A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information. Check to be sure you are speaking with a legitimate company/person by contacting your mortgage lender directly or by calling the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline.
For additional resources on how to avoid foreclosure scams, including an educational video, visit http://www.995hope.org/avoid-foreclosure/