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How to avoid being the victim of a loan modification scam

dennis-norman-st-louis-real-estateAccording to a recent report by the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network (LMSPN), a national anti-scam effort comprised of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), and NeighborWorks America, there have been more than 30,000 loan modification scams reported in the past three years. According to the group, the scammers are becoming “increasingly aggressive online, using targeted web advertisements to reach homeowners who are searching for mortgage relief over the Internet.” The group cautions that homeowners should be aware that no one other than your present lender can guarantee any form of mortgage relief.

Below are six (6) warning signs to look for that may indicate you are dealing with a loan modification scammer:

  1. 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 little or nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.
  2. A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. Nobody can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies will only promise they will try their very best to help you.
  3. 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. The minute you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender.
  4. A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven’t had a chance to read, and you don’t fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor would never pressure you to sign a document before you had a chance to read and understand it.
  5. A company claims to offer “government-approved” or “official government” loan modifications. They may be scam artists posing as legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with, the government. Contact your mortgage lender first. Your lender can tell you whether you qualify for any government programs to prevent foreclosure. And, remember, you do not have to pay to benefit from government-backed loan modification programs.
  6. A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information online or over the phone. You should only give this type of information to companies that you know and trust, like your mortgage lender or a HUD-approved counseling agency.

 

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