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Old 05-13-2012, 11:53 AM
Location: Sarasota/ Bradenton - University Pkwy area
3,234 posts, read 4,629,329 times
Reputation: 2811


I received an email recently from the FL Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services regarding mortgage assistance relief scams that may be of interest to readers here that are upside down on their mortgages.

According to the email, mortgage relief scams have reached an all-time high, with homeowner losses to these scams reaching an estimated $3 billion nationally.

Scammers use a number of techniques. One of the more obvious is to claim they will negotiate with mortgage lenders to save homeowners from foreclosure -- for a fee. Some claim to be affiliated with government programs such as the HAMP and HAFA programs. They demand money up front from homeowners and then fail to deliver on their promises.

The FL Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services is warning about some other scams currently in circulation in Florida:

Mass Joinder Lawsuits: This is where the scammers claim you can join a mass lawsuit covering more 2 or more legal issues to be heard in one trial. They send out invitations from a “specialized” law firm to distressed homeowners, inviting them to join in the mass lawsuit to get a loan modification or avoid foreclosure. They can require up front fees of thousands of dollars. According to the information, frequently there is no actual attorney reviewing the homeowner’s case or the attorney of record is not even licensed to practice law in FL.

The Forensic Audit: In this scam a mortgage loan “auditor” contacts the homeowners with offers to have an attorney review their mortgage documents (for a fee) to determine if the mortgage company followed the law when filing the mortgage. They claim the homeowner can then use their findings to get loan modifications, stop foreclosure or get the loans cancelled.

Rent-to-Buy Schemes: These scammers convince homeowners to surrender title to their homes while remaining in them as renters, with the promise that they can repurchase their homes at a later date. The scammers usually write terms to the contract that make it too expensive for the homeowner to repurchase the home, or once the deal is completed, raise the rent rates until the homeowner can no longer afford to stay. These scams don’t work for another reason: transferring title to a 3rd party does not relieve the homeowner of their mortgage debt obligation to the lender.

Phony Counseling: The scammers contact the homeowner promising to negotiate with the lender for a fee. Sometimes they claim to be attorneys. They usually advise the homeowners to stop talking to their mortgage companies and to make their mortgage payments directly to the scammer while the scammer supposedly deals with the lender.

Always proceed with caution when dealing with anyone offering to help you modify your mortgage or avoid foreclosure.

Under the MARS Rule (Mortgage Assistance Relief Services), it is illegal for a company to ask for payment until the company gives you a written offer of a loan modification or relief from the lender AND you, the homeowner, accepts that offer.

Companies are supposed to disclose that they are not associated with the government in their marketing to consumers. They also cannot tell you to stop contact with your lender. They are supposed to tell you that your lender may not agree to change the loan terms AND failure to pay your mortgage could result in your losing your home.

Note: Attorneys are generally exempt from the rule if they meet 3 conditions -- they are engaged in the practice of law, they must be licensed in the state where the consumer or dwelling is located, and they must comply with state laws and regulations governing attorney conduct related to the rule. To be exempt from the advance fee ban, attorneys must meet a 4th requirement – they must place any fees they collect in a client trust account and abide by state laws and regulations covering such accounts.

So if it sounds too good to be true…..

To find foreclosure avoidance counseling agencies approved by the US Dept. of Housing & Urban Development (HUD), you can visit the HUD foreclosure web page at www.hud.gov/foreclosure.

Another good information site is:

The FL Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services also offers www.800helpfla.com

And the OCC’s consumer information site for banking related questions is: www.Helpwithmybank.gov

There are legitimate consumer counseling agencies that can help homeowners work with their lenders, you just need to know where to look.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:07 AM
1,264 posts, read 1,362,099 times
Reputation: 313
Don't forget the ones offering to "help" you make weekly or semi-monthly payments on your mortgage, saving you "tens of thousands of dollars". We've gotten at least a dozen of those since closing on our house. You can set that up directly with your lender yourself if you want. Just more crooks trying to get their hands on your money.
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