Homeownership Preservation Foundation Provides Assistance, Six Warning Signs of Foreclosure Scams to Prevent Homeowners Falling Prey to Rip-offs

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Homeowners in foreclosure can become the target of mortgage loan scammers who seek to take advantage of their situation. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation, 1-888-995-HOPE, is alerting homeowners to resources that will help them avoid being victimized by unscrupulous companies conducting mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams.

Don't be fooled. You can find specific guidance on how to avoid mortgage loan scams by calling 1-888-995-HOPE or visiting the website at www.995HOPE.org

Information about individual foreclosures is publicly available, with anyone able to access information such as the owner's name and address, and in some states, other sensitive information. This means that homeowners in foreclosure can become the target of mortgage loan scammers who seek to take advantage of their situation. The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), which provides information and financial education to guide consumers toward the path of sustainable homeownership, is alerting homeowners to resources that will help them avoid being victimized by unscrupulous companies conducting mortgage loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams. The Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline, 1-888-995-HOPE, is a central point of contact for homeowners who think they may be a victim of a scam.

1-888-995-HOPE™ Available Resource for Homeowners to Report Fraud

"One of the most devastating aspects of the current financial crisis for homeowners is the prospect of losing their homes to foreclosure, and to add to their distress, many homeowners have fallen victim to foreclosure help scams," said Colleen Hernandez, CEO of the Homeownership Preservation Foundation. "Don't be fooled. You can find specific guidance on how to avoid mortgage loan scams by calling 1-888-995-HOPE or visiting the website at http://www.995HOPE.org," said Hernandez.

HPF has formed a coalition with NeighborWorks America, HUD, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law to curb foreclosure rescue scams. The Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline has a dedicated team trained specifically to take information on reported foreclosure scams and work with homeowners to address any financial issues. This information is used by local, state, and federal agencies to shut down unscrupulous organizations.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office released a report in July 2010 entitled "Home Ownership Preservation," which warns: "The current foreclosure crisis has provided persons who may perpetrate mortgage foreclosure rescue and loan modification schemes with unprecedented opportunities to profit from homeowners desperate to save their homes."

The report says that the most active scheme is one in which individuals or companies charge a fee for services not rendered. In addition, the report said there are two other types of foreclosure rescue and loan modification scams that are common: advance-fee loan modification schemes and sales-leaseback schemes, with advance-fee schemes being the most common. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission recently reported on a new twist on the advance-fee scam--a forensic mortgage loan audit.

Scams aren't always easy to spot - but it helps if to know what to look for. Here are Six Warning Signs of a Foreclosure Scam:

1.    A company/person asks for a fee in advance to work with your lender to modify, refinance or reinstate your mortgage. They may pocket your money and do nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.
2.    A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. NO ONE can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy HUD-approved counseling agencies can assist you with options and facilitate communication with your mortgage company.
3.    A company/person advises you to stop paying your mortgage company and pay them instead. Despite what a scammer will tell you, you should never send a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage lender. If you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender or call the Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 1-888-995HOPE™.
4.    A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven't read or you don't fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor should not and will not pressure you to sign a document of any kind.    
5.    A company claims to offer "government-approved" or "official government" loan modifications. These may be scam artists pretending to be legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with the government. Check to be sure by contacting your mortgage lender directly or by calling Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 1-888-995HOPE™ to learn more about government programs for which you may qualify.
6.    A company/person you don't know asks you to release personal financial information. Check to be sure you are speaking with a legitimate company/person by contacting your mortgage lender directly or by calling Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 1-888-995HOPE™.

For additional resources on how to avoid foreclosure scams, including an educational video, visit http://www.995hope.org/avoid-foreclosure/

About the Homeownership Preservation Foundation

The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) is an independent national nonprofit dedicated to helping distressed homeowners navigate financial challenges and avoid mortgage foreclosure. Through its Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline, 888-995-HOPE™, HPF provides comprehensive homeowner education and foreclosure prevention counseling for free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, in over 170 languages. Since 2007, HPF has served over four million distressed homeowners, an average of 5,500 persons each business day, who depend upon HPF as a trusted, neutral source of assistance. HPF develops innovative and sustainable solutions to preserve and expand homeownership through consumer education and counseling programs. For more information about the Homeownership Preservation Foundation or the Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline, please visit http://www.995hope.org

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