I have been hearing more and more about scams where people or companies take advantage of people’s housing woes. A sad reality that the scam artists have had time to catch up to the rest of the world, but take heart – we can stay one step ahead of them!
Tips to avoid a scam
A friend forwarded me this article, about avoiding some of the “foreclosure prevention” scams that are out there. I thought it was worth sharing, but the most important tip is probably the least specific one:
If you receive an unsolicited call or letter promising help, verify that the person promising help is actually from your lender or servicer. Technically only your lender or servicer has the power to modify your loan. Scammers use the public records to find out the default status of homeowners, and some of them pretend to be the lender holding the lien. However, you can usually verify if the offer for help is real by contacting your lender’s public customer service line.
If something sounds too good to be true it probably is
If you receive an offer which brings that saying to mind put on the brakes and ask for a copy of it in writing. Then you will know exactly what you are being offered, and you will have time to research it and the company. Talk to others in the industry to see if the offer sounds illegal, or if it is just plain dishonest. There are so many grey areas at the moment, and as time passes they are being sorted out.
What if you are in trouble?
If you are having trouble paying your mortgage you can contact your lender. Many of them are getting money from the stumulus package to help you stay in your home. You may be able to refinance (for upto 125% of the home’s value if you aren’t taking cash out), and they may work out payment options for you.
- HUD Government website with information to help you avoid foreclosure: http://www.hud.gov/foreclosure/
- HOPE NOW is an alliance between HUD approved counseling agents, mortgage companies, investors and other mortgage market participants that provides free foreclosure prevention assistance.