Avoid scam artists if foreclosure is looming

| Sep 19, 2019 | Firm News |

In times of anxiety, people can be vulnerable to the siren call of scam artists, and the specter of foreclosure is one of those times. The fear of losing a Michigan property can motivate people to consider offers that might seem too good to be true. In many cases they are, and the end result not only fails to prevent foreclosure, but could also deprive you of both your property and a substantial sum of money.

Part of the problem with mortgage scammers is that they seem legitimate at first. The FTC explains that they advertise through the internet, television and radio. You might also spot an ad for a mortgage relief company in the newspaper. Pedestrians may notice flyers on bus stops or telephone poles. Mortgage scammers also try to specifically target people by looking for foreclosure notices in the paper and sending personalized pitches to property owners.

Scam artists may promise to negotiate with your lender for a better deal. In the process, they may warn you not to talk to your lender at all and to make mortgage payments directly to them. This is illegal, as no company can tell you not to speak with your lender. And if they take your money, they are likely not giving it to the lender at all and are likely to disappear after a while with your money in pocket.

Mortgage scammers also try to charge an upfront fee with the promise of delivering relief at a later date. According to the FTC, this is not legal. The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule mandates that companies are forbidden from collecting fees unless a lender has provided a homeowner with a relief offer and the homeowner has agreed to it. If you do not have results, you are not legally obligated to pay a mortgage relief outfit.

Some property owners actually do receive literature from their lender, or so they think. The Motley Fool warns that scammers sometimes try to impersonate a bank by using the name and logo of the bank on an email. Find out if the offer is legitimate by contacting your lender through a email or contact number you know is legitimate. Sometimes a phony email can be instantly spotted by typos or by an email address that does not look familiar.

These are just a few of the signs that a malicious party is trying to take advantage of your fears. Fortunately, there are legitimate alternatives to a mortgage foreclosure, such as forbearance, a second mortgage, or a loan modification, options that do not expose you and your finances to the risk of scammers.