Mortgage Relief Scams

Struggling to pay your note? Before you hire the wrong help, let me show you how to spot the four most common mortgage relief scams.

First, this: federal rules prohibit anyone from charging a consumer a fee for refinancing, a loan modification or mortgage assistance unless a lender has first issued a written offer of mortgage relief to that consumer and the consumer has officially accepted it.

Still, mortgage relief scams run rampant and right over struggling homeowners every day. According to the Federal Trade Commission, these are the most common mortgage relief scams:

* PHONY HELP/COUNSELING. The scammer says for an upfront fee, he’ll negotiate a deal with your lender to either refinance your loan or bail you out. He may even claim to be a lawyer, and he’ll tell you not to contact your lender — “Let me handle it.” He’s not a lawyer. He’s not contacting your lender. But now he has your money.

* THE “FORENSIC AUDIT.” Another scam with the dead giveaway of an upfront fee, the “forensic audit” scam is when someone requests a fee to have a mortgage auditor of foreclosure prevention auditor review your loan to make sure your lender isn’t breaking the law. The truth is there is no expert, and the person collecting the fee has no authority to either arrange a loan modification or rescue you from foreclosure.

* RENT-TO-BUY SCHEMES. A phony “landlord” lures you into a lease-purchase agreement on a home he may or may not actually own, deceiving you into thinking your rent will eventually add up to a down payment on the house. When the time comes for the purchase, he either evicts you or disappears with your money as the real owner of the property shows up, wondering who YOU are and why you are occupying the property.

* BAIT-AND-SWITCH. The scam artist gives you papers to sign to either get another loan or modify your current one. Buried inside those papers: a document that turns over the property deed or title to the scammer.

Never accept an unsolicited offer from any purported lender or loan modification service. Instead, check with either your state’s financial institutions regulator or attorney general’s office for licensed mortgage lenders in your area. Their credentials should be in good standing not only with those agencies, but also with your area’s Better Business Bureau.

Or…you can simply email me at andy@andywisechoices.com. I’ll put you in touch with Mid-South lenders you can trust.

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