Homeowners who are facing financial difficulty are often targeted by mortgage relief scams. These scams can be very convincing, and homeowners may be desperate for help, making them vulnerable to these schemes.
Scammers often pose as government officials or mortgage experts, and they may promise homeowners that they can help them avoid foreclosure or modify their mortgage loan. However, these promises are often false, and homeowners who fall victim to these scams may lose their homes and their money.
If you are facing financial difficulty and you are considering a mortgage relief program, it is important to do your research and be very careful. Here are some tips to help you avoid becoming a victim of a mortgage relief scam:
- Only work with a HUD-approved housing counselor. You can find a housing counselor by calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).
- Be wary of anyone who promises to help you avoid foreclosure or modify your mortgage loan for a fee. It is illegal for anyone other than a licensed attorney to charge a homeowner a pre-paid fee to negotiate a mortgage modification on the homeowner’s behalf.
- Read all paperwork carefully before signing anything. Do not sign anything that you do not understand.
- Do not be pressured into making a decision quickly. Take your time and do your research before making any decisions about your mortgage.
The warning signs for fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes:
- You are charged an upfront fee for assistance in avoiding foreclosure or modifying your mortgage loan.
- You are asked to transfer the deed to your home. It is very unlikely you will ever get the deed back, regardless of what you are told.
- The individual or company “helping” you asks you to make future mortgage payments directly to them, instead of paying your mortgage company directly. This is a common tactic used by scammers to take your money and run.
- You are asked not to contact your current mortgage company. This is another common tactic used by scammers to prevent you from getting help from a legitimate source.
- The scammer refuses to provide you with a written plan or contract, or alternatively pressures you to quickly sign documents you do not understand. This is a red flag that the scammer is not interested in helping you, but rather is trying to take advantage of you.
Review this HUD guide for homeowners having difficulty making mortgage payments. This guide provides information on your rights and options if you are facing foreclosure.
If you think you may have been a victim of a mortgage relief scam, you should contact your state attorney general’s office or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You can also file a complaint with the FTC online at ftc.gov/complaint.
It is important to be aware of the red flags for fraudulent mortgage rescue schemes. If you are contacted by someone who claims to be able to help you avoid foreclosure or modify your mortgage loan, be sure to do your research and ask questions before you hand over any money.