Fraudulent foreclosure “rescue” professionals use half-truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief to homeowners in distress.
According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the nation’s consumer protection agency, the latest foreclosure rescue scam to exploit financially strapped homeowners are forensic mortgage loan audits.
In exchange for an upfront fee of several hundred dollars, so-called forensic loan auditors, mortgage loan auditors, or foreclosure prevention auditors backed by forensic attorneys offer to review your mortgage loan documents to determine whether your lender complied with state and federal mortgage lending laws. The “auditors” say you can use the audit report to avoid foreclosure, accelerate the loan modification process, reduce your loan principal, or even cancel your loan.
Nothing could be further from the truth. According to the FTC and its law enforcement partners:
- there is no evidence that forensic loan audits will help you get a loan modification or any other foreclosure relief, even if they’re conducted by a licensed, legitimate and trained auditor, mortgage professional or lawyer.
- some federal laws allow you to sue your lender based on errors in your loan documents. But even if you sue and win, your lender is not required to modify your loan simply to make your payments more affordable.
- if you cancel your loan, you will have to return the borrowed money, which may result in you losing your home.
If you are in default on your mortgage or facing foreclosure, you may be targeted by a foreclosure rescue scam.
Spotting a Scam
If you’re looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:
- guarantees to stop the foreclosure process – no matter what your circumstances are
- instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor
- collects a fee before providing any services accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer
- encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time
- recommends that you make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender
- urges you to transfer your property deed or title to it
- offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is inappropriate for the housing market
- pressures you to sign papers you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.
Finding Legitimate Help
In Washington State, contact the homeownership information hotline if you are having difficulty making your mortgage payments. The number to talk to a counselor is 1.877.894.HOME.
If you think you’ve been dealing with a foreclosure fraudster, contact: