By Ryan Velez
The ramifications of a foreclosure scam can be financially crippling, literally robbing you of house and home, taking your credit and wreaking havoc on your savings. Making this crime worse is the fact that the people who are ripe for these scams are generally already under duress—people who are not able to keep up their mortgage payments or are looking to sell their homes. Generally, con artists promise to help you save your home or get bankruptcy protection, but actually take your money and home while not helping at all. A recent Black Enterprise article has provided some telltale signs of these types of scams.
One of the first things to look out for is the fact that these “solutions” being offered are extremely convoluted, to the point where you can’t understand how this is supposed to help you with your money issues. This is doubly a cause for concern if the entity promising to help you urges you to trust in their expertise, intentions, and methods, despite the fact that you are not entirely sure what they are. Some may go so far as to claim to be affiliated with government mortgage modification programs. However, as a rule of thumb, know that true government programs do not have a charge fee to participate. Also be sure to take a close look at any documents presented to you to sign. Not only should you try and read them thoroughly before signing them, take them to an attorney or mortgage lender, but not anyone your “rescuer” recommends.
Also take a look at the nature of the offer. Many scammers try to appeal to racial or religious solidarity to try and play on your feelings, or try and revolve around your unfair situation. Consider where the offer came from as well. If someone reaches out to you via mail, email, or phone call unsolicited, this should be an instant red flag on the validity of the offer.
The safest thing to do to avoid any scams is to make sure that you deal only directly with your mortgage lender. Con artists may sometimes offer to negotiate on your behalf, which may sound like a weight off your shoulders, but is instead a method to get you to relinquish control. It may be tempting to duck your lender in times of duress, but in fact, the best choice of action is to try and work out a solution and open a dialogue at the first sign of trouble.