March 2nd, 2010 11:45 AM by Scott Bray
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network, today announced the launch of PreventLoanScams.org“Homeowners at risk of foreclosure can be easy prey for home loan modification scammers. Often, dishonest individuals lure vulnerable homeowners into foreclosure rescue scams by making false promises. Scammers frequently claim they can lower mortgage payments or stop the foreclosure process. ”“Troubled homeowners lose time and money when they are tricked by con artists who promise to help but never do,” said John Trasviña, HUD Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This initiative combines the collective energies of public and private enterprises to strengthen the ability of law enforcement to prosecute scammers and protect homeowners.”
The Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network, a national coalition of public and private enterprises, is led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, and NeighborWorks America assist the Lawyers’ Committee in leading the coalition’s fight against loan modification scams. The Network developed PreventLoanScams.org to provide homeowners with a single destination to report alleged scammers. Complaints filed online are added to a national complaint database and forwarded to the appropriate law enforcement agencies for review. The Network estimates that the website will assist approximately 50,000 homeowners affected by scams. Additionally, HUD has directed its local fair housing and housing counseling grantees to begin reporting alleged loan modification scams via the website. The creation of a national complaint database is a major step in the fight against loan modification scams. Prior to the launch of PreventLoanScams.org, federal, state, and local government agencies could not share complaint data with non-profit organizations. The new system allows for better analysis of trends across jurisdictional lines and will likely lead to an increase in private enforcement action filings.
There are a ton of companies out there that offer loan modifications to struggling homeowners, many of which are start ups looking to take advantage of the environment. While the upfront fees charged by loan modification operations are generally viewed as the first sign of a scam, not all loan modification companies that charge up-front fees are predatory. Remember the financial situation of the borrowers these companies are working with: they are in great distress. If you were trying to do business with a counterparty who was essentially bankrupt, wouldn't you want to get paid upfront too?
My point: just because a company charges an upfront fee doesn't mean they are "scammers".
Here are some tips from the Administration
Tips to Avoid Scams
Here is a tip from me: WORK WITH A HUD APPROVED COUNSELOR