Are you the next target of a mortgage modification scam?

By Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law, LP,

Mortgage modifications are often wise options for people who are behind in their mortgage payments or who are interested in lowering their payments. Unfortunately, there are a lot of scam artists out there conning innocent homeowners.

Florida Attorney General warns residents about scams

Despite crackdowns on mortgage scam artists, Florida residents are still being targeted by individuals and businesses that claim to be mortgage modification specialists. The Florida Attorney General’s Office warns that any company or individual that requests an application or upfront fee for a loan modification is operating illegally. People claiming to be “foreclosure prevention specialists” and even licensed Florida mortgage brokers cannot charge you a fee.

In addition, “bailout” or “lease/buyback” schemes have emerged. With this type of scam, a homeowner is led to believe he or she can sell the homes or transfer the deed to a broker, then rent it back – with an option to buy later on.

How to spot a mortgage scammer

Florida residents are vulnerable to fraudulent individuals and companies operating both within their state and throughout the country. When you’re deeply stressed about your house payments, it can be difficult to spot every common gambit these unscrupulous organizations run. There are, however, a few guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Ignore a “specialist” who advises you to stop paying your mortgage until the modification is in place.
  • Don’t trust an “intermediary” who tells you that it’s important not to contact your current lender yourself to discuss the deal.
  • Never transfer your property deed to a company that claims this step is part of the process.
  • Be wary of a business or individual that guarantees you will be able to avoid foreclosure.
  • Don’t give in to anyone who requires money up front and then demands a wire transfer or money order.
  • Look twice at any emails or mailed flyers that claim to be government programs. While certain federally-funded programs are in place, solicitation from them is unlikely. Careful research can help you determine whether the program is legitimate or a fake.

Don’t be discouraged

Despite the mortgage modification scams, homeowners shouldn’t be discouraged from pursuing options that can save their homes. The best way to know if a mortgage modification opportunity is legitimate is through a trusted attorney. The lawyers at the law firm of Marrero, Chamizo, Marcer Law LP, can help you.