The Coronavirus pandemic has brought difficult financial times for many people and so it is not surprising that many people are having difficulty paying their mortgages and are facing the specter of foreclosure. As could be expected (certainly by anyone who read Scamicide regularly) there is no lack of unscrupulous scammers all too willing to take advantage of people facing possible foreclosure. Often they scour the newspapers for foreclosure notices to find potential victims. Other times they may even advertise their services on television, radio or the Internet. It is important to remember that merely because you see an advertisement on a legitimate television station or other legitimate media, it does not mean that the ad is not a scam. Many of these scams “guarantee” results and generally they all require up front payments.
There are a number of different versions of foreclosure rescue scams. In one version the scammer offers to buy the home by paying off the mortgage and letting the scam victim rent the home with the rental payments being applied toward buying it back from the scammer. The problem is that while the scam victim does convey his or her property to the scammer, the scammer never pays off the mortgage and just collects rent payments until the victim eventually learns that the home is even deeper in debt.
In another foreclosure rescue scam, the scammers guarantee that, in return for an advance payment, they will be able to appreciably lower the mortgage payments on the property. Unfortunately, this is an empty promise and the scam victim makes the payment, but gets nothing in return.
Remember no one can guarantee results when it comes to mortgage foreclosures. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rules make it illegal for a company to require an advance payment. They cannot require a payment until they provide you with a written offer of loan modification or other relief from your mortgage lender and you accept that offer. Anyone asking for money up front should be avoided. If you are having difficulty with your mortgage, there are plenty of free housing counselors who can help you. Contact your state Consumer Protection Bureau for the names of some reputable companies. Never deal with anything as serious and complicated as your home mortgage without hiring a lawyer.
For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.” Scamicide was recently cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.