HUD Launches Online Resource to Fight Loan Mod Scams
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network, today announced the launch of PreventLoanScams.org
“Homeowners at risk of foreclosure can be easy prey for home loan modification scammers. Often, dishonest individuals lure vulnerable homeowners into foreclosure rescue scams by making false promises. Scammers frequently claim they can lower mortgage payments or stop the foreclosure process. ”
“Troubled homeowners lose time and money when they are tricked by con artists who promise to help but never do,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This initiative combines the collective energies of public and private enterprises to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to prosecute scammers and protect homeowners.”
The Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network, a national coalition of public and private enterprises, is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, and NeighborWorks America assist the Lawyers’ Committee in leading the coalition’s fight against loan modification scams.
The Network developed PreventLoanScams.org to provide homeowners with a single destination to report alleged scammers. Complaints filed online are added to a national complaint database and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for review. The Network estimates that the website will assist approximately 50,000 homeowners affected by scams. Additionally, HUD has directed its local fair housing and housing counseling grantees to begin reporting alleged loan modification scams via the website.
The creation of a national complaint database is a major step in the fight against loan modification scams. Prior to the launch of PreventLoanScams.org, federal, state, and local government agencies could not share complaint data with non-profit organizations. The new system allows for better analysis of trends across jurisdictional lines and will likely lead to an increase in private enforcement action filings.
There are a ton of companies out there that offer loan modificationsrnto struggling homeowners, many of which are start ups looking to takernadvantage of the environment. While the upfront fees charged by loan modificationrnoperations are generally viewed as the first sign of a scam, not allrnloan modification companies that charge up-front fees are predatory.rnRemember the financial situation of the borrowers these companies arernworking with: they are in great distress. If you were trying to dornbusiness with a counterparty who was essentially bankrupt, wouldn't yournwant to get paid upfront too?
My point: just because a company charges an upfront fee doesn't mean they are “scammers”.
Here are some tips from the Administration
- Beware of anyone who asks you to pay a fee in exchange for a counseling service or modification of a delinquent loan.
- Scam artists often target homeowners who are struggling to meet their mortgage commitment or anxious to sell their homes. Recognize and avoid common scams.
- Beware of people who pressure you to sign papers immediately, or who try to convince you that they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house.
- Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company to forgive your debt.
- Never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.
Here is a tip from me: WORK WITH A HUD APPROVED COUNSELOR
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