Scam of the day – December 20, 2012 – Mortgage assistance scam update

Scammers have no mercy and always look for people who are the most vulnerable to scam which is why it should come as no surprise that many homeowners who are having trouble paying their mortgages in a difficult real estate market have been targeted by these scam artists, the only criminals we refer to as artists.  As with many scams, a kernel of truth may be found in the scams, namely that the government has programs to assist people in keeping their homes out of foreclosure.  Unfortunately, many scammers have been taking advantage of the little bit of knowledge that people may have about such programs and are preying on them to take further money from these homeowners struggling to keep their homes.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which is a federal agency is presently investigating two companies that they allege have used misleading communications to mislead consumers into thinking that they are part of the federal government or associated with government sponsored programs.  The two companies under investigation are the Gordon Law Firm and the National Legal Help Center.  The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is alleging that these firms requested the payment of upfront fees, which is always a bad sign, in amounts ranging from a thousand dollars to as much as four thousand dollars.  The CFPB is also alleging that these companies told customers to not contact their lenders and that they would be provided mortgage relief through the efforts of these companies under investigation.  Ultimately, their customers are saying they got nothing from these companies who, they say, stopped even communicating with them.

TIPS

Even though there are laws against misleading advertising, you should not be confident that advertisements that promise mortgage relief are accurate.  If a company implies that it is a part of the federal or state government, you should contact your state attorney general to confirm whether or not they truly are a federal or state agency.  You should also be extremely wary of  anyone who requires an upfront payment to help you with mortgage problems.  Before dealing with any company that indicates that it is able to help you with your mortgage debt, you should contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at their website, www.consumerfinance.gov or by phone at 855-411-2372.  You should also contact the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at their website of www.hud.gov or by phone at 202-708-1112 for information on programs that truly can help homeowners.