Chicago, Illinois (PRWEB) March 8, 2010
Richard G. Fonfrias, J.D. of Fonfrias Law Group, LLC (http://www.chicagomoneylawyer.com), a leading Illinois bankruptcy law firm, urges consumers seeking financial help in these difficult times to proceed with extreme caution. "Debt settlement scams and mortgage modifications scams are on the rise in the state of Illinois. These unscrupulous businesses prey on individuals who are desperate to avoid financial ruin, who, in many cases, are misled into thinking it is their one and only option. It is imperative that consumers know their rights under the law and fully understand just what they are getting themselves into, before they sign anything. To make an informed decision, consumers need as much information as possible. Fortunately, there is a great deal of helpful information that consumers can access for free, from trustworthy sources including government agencies and reputable bankruptcy lawyer websites," states Fonfrias.
Mortgage and financial service fraud are the fastest growing white collar crimes in the U.S. today. In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan's office reports that consumer debt-related complaints about collection agencies, credit card companies and businesses that deal in mortgage foreclosures, among others, increased by 16 ½ percent since 2008. More than 21,000 consumers have called the Attorney General's Homeowner Helpline for help. A total of approximately 4,000 homeowners have filed residential mortgage related complaints with the state's Consumer Protection Division in 2009, an increase of 65 percent from the past year. Many of these complaints were about mortgage rescue companies. The Attorney General has now filed 31 lawsuits targeting these mortgage rescue scams.
The ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis and recession in this country has turned many ordinary Americans into desperate people and easy targets for con artists offering financially strapped consumers false hope through loan modification scams and debt settlement scams. "Any consumer seeking financial help needs to be aware that there are many unethical businesses out there offering financial help services. Particularly upsetting are the rip-off debt settlement programs, where companies charge excessive upfront fees and advise consumers to stop paying their credit card bills. Loan modification scams or foreclosure rescue businesses charge the consumer a large upfront fee to supposedly negotiate a loan modification with the lender. In these consumer rip offs, the customer spends a great deal of money and receives little in return, and usually leaves them in worst financial difficulties than when they started," reports Fonfrias.
There are a number of things that financially strapped consumers can do to protect themselves from fraud. First and foremost, they need to obtain all the information and reputable advice they can. Consumers should know that assistance and information can be had for free from their bank lender or from a HUD-approved housing counselor. As well, government financial help web sites and prominent bankruptcy attorney web sites offer a wealth of information for free. Consumers should always avoid any financial services company or financial consulting company that makes guarantees and unrealistic promises or requires a large payment up front. Those old adages 'an educated consumer is a good consumer' and 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is', may be well worn sayings, but for individuals facing financial difficulties like personal bankruptcy, home foreclosure or massive credit card debt, they ring truer today than ever before.
Richard G. Fonfrias, J.D.
Fonfrias Law Group, LLC
First National Plaza
70 West Madison, Suite 1400
Chicago IL 60602
Toll Free: 800-584-4944
About Fonfrias Law Group: With eighteen offices serving Chicago and communities throughout Illinois, Fonfrias Law Group is Chicago's experienced financial rescue and bankruptcy legal team, offering all forms of bankruptcy legal services, debt consolidation, bad credit repair, foreclosure defense, credit card debt management, loan and mortgage refinancing advise. We can help with all forms of homeowner and consumer financial rescue in emergency situations. For more information call 312-969-0730 or inquire on line http://www.chicagomoneylawyer.com
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