Release Date: March 5, 2009
For immediate release
Reports of mortgage foreclosure scams are on the rise. Knowing what to watch for and where to turn for help is vital for families who are struggling to remain in their homes. March 1 to 9 is National Consumer Protection Week, and the Federal Reserve Board has compiled some tips to help protect consumers from becoming victims of foreclosure avoidance scams. It's important for consumers to know that housing counselors and other resources are available at no or low cost to assist homeowners who have fallen behind on their mortgage payments.
"Saving a home from foreclosure requires fast and informed action but the solution doesn't have to be costly," said Federal Reserve Governor Elizabeth A Duke. "It shouldn't hurt to get help."
Solicitors of foreclosure schemes reach out to potential victims by a variety of means using the Internet, the telephone, and direct mailings. Some solicitors go door-to-door or approach homeowners at events related to home preservation. The information the Federal Reserve is providing, which is part of its "5 Tips" series, is intended to give consumers the basic information they need to recognize and avoid foreclosure avoidance scams. Consumers are urged to check the credentials of counselors and to avoid working with someone who collects a fee before providing any services or accepts payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer. Consumers should not pay for a service without knowing exactly what they are buying.
Avoiding foreclosure cannot be guaranteed--regardless of the circumstances. Working with a legitimate counselor can increase the chances of keeping a home, but consumers should be wary of people who tell them it's a sure thing. Details of the transaction, along with any promises, should be provided up front and in writing.
The tips to follow will help consumers select a reputable counselor and avoid fraudulent foreclosure scams.
Work only with a non-profit HUD-approved counselor. For a list of certified counselors visit www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm or call 877-HUD-1515 (877-483-1515). If the name of the organization you are working with isn't on the list, then switch to one that is.
Don't pay an arm and a leg. Most housing counselors provide no- or low-cost counseling services. You should not have to pay hundreds, or thousands, of dollars for assistance.
Be wary of "guarantees." No one can ensure you good results.
- Know what you are signing. Don't let a counselor pressure you into signing paperwork you haven't had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don't understand.
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you feel you are a victim of foreclosure fraud, trust your instincts and ask for help. Report suspicious schemes to your state and local consumer protection agencies, which you can find on the Consumer Action Website.
Additional information about avoiding foreclosure scams may be found on the Board's website: