The possibility of losing your home to foreclosure can be terrifying. The reality is made more scary by the thought of scam artists preying on desperate home owners is equally frightening.
Recently,Better Business Bureau of Acadiana has been contacted alleging some companies saying you can get a change to your loan that will reduce your monthly mortgage payment or take other steps to save your home.
Some claim that nearly all their customers get successful results and even offer a money-back guarantee. Others say they're affiliated with the government or your lender and still others promise the help of attorneys or real estate experts.
Who do you trust? There are many ethical businesses out there; unfortunately, there are also companies using half-truths and even outright lies to sell their services. They promise relief, but don't deliver. In fact, many of these companies leave their homeowner customers in worse financial shape.
Watch for potentially deceptive – messages and advertising, like:
· "Stop foreclosure now!"
· "Get a loan modification!"
· "Over 90% of our customers get results."
· "We have special relationships with banks that can speed up the approval process."
· "100%Money Back Guarantee."
· "Keep Your Home. We know your home is scheduled to be sold. No Problem!"
Once they have your attention, they use a variety of tactics to get your money.Sometimes, phony counselors insist you make your mortgage payments directly to them while they negotiate with the lender.
They may collect a few months of payments– and then disappear. Other scams may include so-called forensic loan"auditors," mortgage loan "auditors," or foreclosure prevention "auditors" offers.
BBB reminds you to always feel free to contact your lender directly to see whether they can offer you additional options. Companies that tell you otherwise are breaking the law. If a company doesn't follow these rules, it could be trying to scam you.
If you're looking for a loan modification or other help to save your home, avoid any business that:
· guarantees to get you a loan modification or stop the foreclosure process – no matter what your circumstances;
· tells you not to contact your lender, lawyer, or housing counselor;
· claims that all or most of its customers get loan modifications or mortgage relief;
· asks for an upfront fee before providing you with any services (unless it's a lawyer you've checked out thoroughly);
· accepts payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer;
· encourages you to lease or sell your home so you can buy it back over time;
· tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender;
· tells you to transfer your property deed or title to it;
· pressures you to sign papers you haven't had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don't understand.
The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule makes it illegal for companies to collect any fees until a homeowner has actually received an offer of relief from his or her lender and accepted it. That means even if you agree to have a company help you, you don't have to pay until it gets you the result you want.
Start with Trust®. Check out the business with BBB before doing business. Before giving any company your personal or financial information, review the business at bbb.org and remember, if an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
The BBB of Acadiana works for a trustworthy marketplace by maintaining standards for truthful advertising, investigating and exposing fraud against consumers and businesses. Find information at bbb.org or call (337) 981-3497 24 hours a day for information on businesses throughout North America.
The BBB of Acadiana services the parishes of Acadia, Evangeline, Iberia, Lafayette, St.Martin, St. Landry and Vermilion.