Last Updated: April 27, 2009
Plenty of scam artists are preying these days on homeowners who are living in fear of losing their home to foreclosure. If you are among those who are worried about the bank taking your home or modifying your mortgage, consider these tips just issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC).
"Con artists prey on homeowners who are falling behind on their loans in many ways," the OCC said in its release. "For instance, they may tell consumers to stop paying their mortgages while the con artist works out a modification agreement with the lender and they may require payment of large up-front fees for their 'services.'"
In reality, however, the OCC said the scammer pockets the money and never provides the promised services. "In some schemes, homeowners have been conned into transferring the title to their homes. They may be told that they will be able to lease back or buy back their homes, but the terms of the rent-to-buy agreements are so burdensome that the homeowners are unable to repurchase their homes."
"Recently, scam artists have also tried to take advantage of the federal government's mortgage modification and foreclosure avoidance programs by claiming to be connected with, or approved by, the government in some way," the OCC said.
According to the OCC, below is a consumer advisory list of common scams related to mortgage modification and foreclosure avoidance:
- Foreclosure "rescue" and refinance fraud
- Fake "government" modification programs
- Leaseback/rent-to-buy schemes
- Bankruptcy scams
- Debt-elimination schemes
The OCC also suggests that you can protect yourself from mortgage modification and foreclosure avoidance scams by doing the following:
- Contact your lender or mortgage servicer first
- Make all mortgage payments directly to your lender or to the mortgage servicer
- Avoid paying up-front fees
- Know what you are signing
- Do not sign over your deed without consulting a lawyer you select first
- Get promises in writing
- Report suspicious activity to relevant federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade
Commission, and to your state and local consumer protection agencies
Learn more about the foreclosure resources and tips from the OCC.