October 26, 2010

Dear FHAP Agencies, 

HUD has partnered with several organizations on a loan scam prevention project where victims can report such scams and obtain resources for help.  I have been asked to share this, and request that FHAP agencies link to the project on their websites.   

If you decide to link to the project, feel free to use either of these logos: 

Here is the URL link that the logo can link to: http://complaint.preventloanscams.org/. 

If your agency wants more than just the link and logo, here  is verbiage that your agency can use to create an informational page on your agency website (Fannie Mae is using this verbiage on its anti-fraud page):

 

Beware of Foreclosure Rescue Scams - Help is Free!

Scam artists are stealing millions of dollars from distressed homeowners by promising immediate relief from foreclosure when HUD-approved counseling agencies provide the same services for free. If you receive an offer, information or advice that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don't let them take advantage of you, your situation, your house or your money.

To determine if you are a possible victim of a scam, ask yourself these two questions:

1. Did anyone offer to help modify your mortgage, either directly or through advertising such as a flyer?
2. Were you guaranteed a loan modification or asked to do to any of the following: 

  • Pay a fee 
  • Sign a contract 
  • Deed or Sign over title to your property
  • Redirect mortgage loan payments 
  • Stop making mortgage loan payments

If the answer to either question is Yes, then report the possible scam. Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or click here to report a scam online (with your permission the complaint will be shared with federal and state enforcement). For more information please visit www.loanscamalert.org or www.preventloanscams.org.

Here are some Tips and Warning Signs: 

  • Help is free! HUD-approved housing counseling agencies can help you negotiate with your lender or loan servicer. There is never a fee to get assistance or information from your mortgage company or a HUD-approved housing counselor. Beware of any person or organization that asks you to pay a fee in exchange for housing counseling services or modification of a delinquent loan. Do not pay—walk away! Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) for free housing counseling.
     
  • Beware of anyone who says 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. 
     
  • Don't sign papers in exchange for a promise that someone else will pay off your mortgage. ALWAYS be sure to read and understand all paperwork before signing to ensure that you are not unknowingly giving someone else ownership of your home. 
     
  • Never submit your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without your mortgage company's approval. Scammers might ask you to make your payments to them; however, they pocket your payments instead of sending them to the lender.
     
  • Beware of anyone who says that you don't need a real estate professional or title company when selling your home. You should always have a real estate professional, attorney or a title company to help you with any transaction involving your home. 
     
  • Know the person you do business with. Before responding to any person or organization offering to "save" you from foreclosure, find out if the organization is HUD-approved. Find a housing counselor on the HUD.gov website. Your lender or a HUD-approved housing counselor is the safest source of information and help. 

Information Contributor: 

Kenneth J. Carroll, J.D., M.P.A.
Director, Fair Housing Assistance Program Division
Office of Enforcement - Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/partners/FHAP/