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MORTGAGE RESCUE SCAMS: TOP 10 WARNING SIGNS
added on January 21, 2010

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Consumers and agents, take note! The U.S. Department of the Treasury has issued a consumer advisory detailing common mortgage modification scams. It pays to be aware of fraudulent tactics that con artists may use to lure distressed homeowners into their trap.
CA 2009-1
Consumer Advisory

Comptroller of the Currency
Administrator of National Banks

Washington, DC 20219

April 21, 2009

OCC Consumer Tips for Avoiding Mortgage Modification Scams and Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Scams that promise to “rescue” you from foreclosure are popping up at an alarming rate nationwide, and you need to protect yourself and your home.

If you’re falling behind on your mortgage, others may know it, too — including con artists and scam artists. They know that people in these situations are vulnerable and often desperate. Potential victims are easy to find: mortgage lenders publish notices before foreclosing on homes. Private firms frequently compile and sell lists of these foreclosed properties and distressed borrowers. After reading these notices, con artists approach their targets in person, by mail, over the telephone, or by e-mail. They often advertise their services on television, radio, or the Web, and in newspapers, describing themselves as “foreclosure consultants” or “mortgage consultants,” offering “foreclosure prevention” or “foreclosure rescue” services. And they are only too happy to take advantage of homeowners who want to save their homes.

If someone offers to negotiate a loan modification for you or to stop or delay foreclosure for a fee, carefully check his or her credentials, reputation, and experience, watch out for warning signs of a scam, and always maintain personal contact with your lender and mortgage servicer. Your mortgage lender can help you find real options to avoid foreclosure. It is important to contact your mortgage lender early to preserve all your options. There are legitimate consumer financial counseling agencies that can help you work with your lender.

This Consumer Advisory, issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), describes common scams, suggests ways to protect yourself, provides information on U.S. government loan programs and counseling resources, and lists 10 warning signs of a mortgage modification scam.

Common Types of Scams

Here are some examples of scams related to mortgage modification and foreclosure avoidance.
  • Foreclosure “rescue” and refinance fraud. The scam artist offers to act as an intermediary between you and your lender to negotiate a repayment plan or loan modification and may even “guarantee” to save your home from foreclosure. You may be told to make mortgage payments to the scammer directly — along with significant, up-front fees — and be told that the scammer will forward the payments to your lender. In reality, the scammer may pocket your money and leave you in worse shape on your loan. The scam artist also may tell you to stop making payments or stop communicating with your lender. Don’t follow that advice.

    Remember that your mortgage lender should be the starting point for finding options to avoid foreclosure. You also should consider contacting qualified and approved credit counselors.

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