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Watch out for foreclosure rescue relief scams that could lead to you losing your home

Worried about foreclosure?

Beware of foreclosure rescue companies that make big promises.

A group of companies and individuals doing business as HOPE Services told consumers facing foreclosure they could get help from legitimate, government-backed programs, such as Making Home Affordable – but only after they made three monthly trial payments into a so-called mortgage lender’s trust account, according to the Federal Trade Commission.

Then, the FTC said, HOPE Services pocketed that money, while strongly discouraging homeowners from talking to a lawyer or to their mortgage lender – even as homeowners faced foreclosure notices and hearings.

In the end, HOPE Services provided no help for these homeowners. Financially strapped consumers lost almost $2 million. That forced some into bankruptcy. Some eventually lost their homes.

Lisa Lake, consumer education specialist for the FTC, recommends looking for these signs of a mortgage rescue scam:

  • “Guaranteed” fixes. No one can guarantee they can stop a foreclosure.
  • Fees up-front. Don’t pay in advance anyone who promises to stop a foreclosure or guarantees you a new mortgage.
  • Stop paying, stop talking. Avoid anyone who tells you not to pay your lender, or not to talk with an attorney or your lender.
  • Pressure to sign. Is someone rushing you, or asking you to sign over the title or deed of your house to someone other than your lender? Those are red flags.

If you’re worried about paying your mortgage, see Facing Foreclosure? And if you think you’ve been the victim of a mortgage or foreclosure rescue scam, file a complaint with the FTC and the Attorney General’s Office in your state.

Copyright 2015, Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

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