How to protect yourself from mortgage fraud

dennis-norman-st-louis-realtorThe collapse of the real estate market, along with a down economy has created a fertile environment for fraudsters to attempt to advantage of the many desperate homeowners that are out there. Their methods vary from foreclosure “rescue” schemes, mortgage assistance scams and other scams that generally offer to lower your payments or debt, prevent foreclosure, etc. Below is a list of tips the Department of Justice published this week to help consumers prevent themselves from becoming a victim of fraudsters.

  • Be wary of those that contact you through advertising such as flyers, radio/television or the Internet with promises to modify the terms of your mortgage; if their promises seem too good to be true, they usually are.
  • Be suspicious of loan modification services that require signing a contract or paying an up-front or monthly fee. Advance fees are generally prohibited by law. Loan counseling and modification services are generally provided free from your lender and/or a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counseling center. Contact HUD’s toll-free 24 hour hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673) to immediately speak to an expert advisor in more than 160 languages.
  • Never transfer title of your property, make mortgage payments to someone other than your lender, or stop making mortgage payments altogether — these are guaranteed ways to put your financial investment at risk.
  • Carefully inspect the names, seals, logos and representations made by mortgage rescue companies. They may be deliberately designed to deceive borrowers into believing an affiliation with a government agency exists. The purpose of this is to trick borrowers into believing they are entitled to the benefit of a government program rather than committing to a loan that must be repaid. A government agency will never require advance fees, or guarantee a specific result.
  • Some scammers pushing reverse mortgage loans are in fact trying to unload other financial products on borrowers. Be careful to avoid brokers that want you to obtain a loan in order to buy other products such as long-term care insurance, annuities, or other investments.

And, if you believe you may have been the victim of mortgage fraud, visit www.Stopfraud.gov for more information.

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