Foreclosure rescue scams are common and widespread, in New York and across the country. The most common type is an offer to negotiate with the homeowner’s lender on the homeowner’s behalf, often promising great results. Sometimes the scammer will offer a “money-back guarantee.”
Other scams involve attorneys who bring baseless lawsuits just to charge consumers a fee; or companies convince homeowners to transfer the mortgage or deed to their property over to a third party. In almost all cases, companies that charge upfront fees and promise you a specific result are running a scam.
Below are tips on how to avoid these and other types of scams.
Top Tips to Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams
- Guarantees and Promises
Be wary of trusting a company or individual that “guarantees” or “promises” that you will receive a loan modification or any other outcome with your mortgage. Legitimate organizations and individuals can only promise to work hard for you. They cannot guarantee results (or, that you will keep your home).
- Upfront Fees
It is almost always illegal to ask for upfront fees for loan modification services.
- Stopping Payments
Watch out if you are asked to stop making your regular mortgage payments and to pay the assistance company instead. Never send your mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender or servicer.
- Confusing Language or Paperwork
Be wary of anyone who pressures you to sign any paperwork that you do not understand. If you have questions about a document, ask.
A trustworthy individual or organization should make sure you understand what you are signing before you sign it.
- Transferring Ownership of Your Property
Never turn over your deed or transfer ownership of your home to a mortgage assistance company. A trustworthy organization or individual will not ask you to transfer your property rights to them!
- Avoid Aggressive Sales Pitches
You should beware of companies that call you, and suggest that without their assistance you will lose your home. Legitimate organizations should not aggressively pursue you as a client.
What a Scam May Look Like!
“These are a few examples of the kinds of advertisements you may receive from scammers. If you’re ever unsure about whether something is or is not a scam, just call 855-HOME-456 (855-464-3456).”
It’s Never Too Late for Mortgage Help
Remember: if you are ever unsure about whether you can trust a company or individual to help you with your home or mortgage, call the Attorney General’s Homeowner Protection Program hotline at 855-HOME-456 (855-464-3456), or search for a qualified organization. HOPP is a network of over 85 housing counseling and legal services organizations across the state that provide free help to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. Hotline representatives can connect you to high-quality counseling or legal services all over New York State. All services are provided free of charge.
You can also visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website for a list of approved housing counseling agencies.