Beware of False Hope in Foreclosure Rescue

Home foreclosure is bad enough.  What is worse is a fraudulent foreclosure rescue. The Federal Trade Commission went after HOPE Services this spring for offering homeowners foreclosure rescues that were not.  HOPE Services had homeowners pay three monthly trial payments (like a HAMP trial mortgage modification) and then they kept the money instead of putting it towards any type of foreclosure relief.  Furthermore, HOPE Services encouraged homeowners not to talk to their lenders or an attorney.  This scam cost homeowners nearly $2 million; some went bankrupt and some lost their homes. Hopefully you were not one of the victims of this scam, and hopefully you will not be a victim in any foreclosure rescue scam.  Here are three things to consider when you are considering foreclosure rescue: There are no guarantees in foreclosure rescue.  No one can guarantee to stop a foreclosure or get you a new mortgage. Talk to your lender.  A legitimate foreclosure relief will not have you cut off contact with your lender (and your attorney if you have one). Pressure.  If you are facing foreclosure, you are already under pressure.  Do not accept additional pressure from someone rushing you to sign over the deed or title […] Read More

Trends in Fraud

If you are not spending your own money, someone else may be spending it for you in a scam.  For those who made it through the IRS imposters (or did not), consumers have these trends in fraud to watch out for:   Nepal Earthquake Disaster Relief:  Turn a natural disaster in to a financial disaster by giving financial information to a fraudster instead of a legitimate charity.  This type of fraud is popular when there is a big event negatively affecting many people. Avoid: Unsolicited contact.  If you want to give, YOU contact the aid organization of your choice.  Do not give personal or financial information to an unsolicited caller or email sender. Phishing names.  Watch out for organizations with similar names to legitimate charities. Bogus charities.  Research the charity through Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services at FreshFromFlorida.com and also contact the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at (703) 276-0100 to check for complaints.  Additionally you can learn about a charity’s status at IRS.gov (look under Charities and Non-Profits topics).   Weight Loss Promises:  Waist reduction could become wealth-reduction if you believe in bogus celebrity endorsements on this email spam.  This spam scam usually appears to come from […] Read More

Beware of Up-Front Fees in Foreclosure Rescue

If a foreclosure rescue scheme seems too good to be true, it could cost you a lot. The legislature passed the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act in 2008.  This act specifies that no fees are to be paid by the borrower until the rescue services are fully rendered, and that a written contract with terms and conditions has to be signed by both parties before services begin.  Furthermore by 2010, anyone performing loan modification services had to have an active license from the Florida Office of Financial Regulation. Besides up-front fees, other things to look out for when you are looking for hope include: Instruction NOT to contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor Payment only accepted in cashier’s check or wire transfer Guarantee to stop foreclosure no matter what Encouragement for you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time Mortgage payments to be made directly to the company rather than your lender Request for you to transfer your property title to the company The Florida Bar cautions: ‘If any business or individual offers to help you stop foreclosure immediately by signing a document authorizing them to act on your behalf or to […] Read More

Fraud-Day

Fraud often looks like one thing, but turns out to be something very different, and not in a good way.  Foreclosure rescue scams are a big example.  Today may look like the end of the work week, but it could be the bottom of your money and credit if you sign over the deed to your house to a third party. You get ads on TV, radio and the Internet that prey on the misfortunes of homeowners.  Many of the companies that advertise heavily are start-up companies according to the Florida Bar, and they may lack experience or relevant experience to help homeowners significantly…or they may not have the homeowner’s best interest in mind. The Florida Bar has the following ten tips to help you avoid foreclosure-rescue and loan-modification scams:   1. Contact your lender directly before reaching out to a third party making promises. 2. Avoid businesses that guarantee favorable outcomes.  There is no legitimate way to promise any particular outcome with respect to defaulted and under-water mortgages (mortgages in which the amounts owed cost more than the houses are now worth). 3. Avoid businesses that ask for up-front charges for loan modification or foreclosure rescue.  This practice is […] Read More