How to Avoid a Loan Modification Scam

Home loan scams, schemes, and foreclosure rescue aren’t always easy to spot. It does help if you know the warning signs. Here are seven things you should know to avoid dealing with a loan modification scammer:

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 little or nothing to help you save your home from foreclosure.

2. A company/person guarantees they can stop a foreclosure or get your loan modified. Nobody can make this guarantee to stop foreclosure or modify your loan. Legitimate, trustworthy counseling agencies will only promise they will try their very best to help you.

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. The minute you have trouble making your monthly payment, contact your mortgage lender.

4. A company pressures you to sign over the deed to your home or sign any paperwork that you haven’t had a chance to read, and you don’t fully understand. A legitimate housing counselor would never pressure you to sign a document before you had a chance to read and understand it.

5. A company claims to offer “government-approved” or “official government” loan modifications. They may be scam artists posing as legitimate organizations approved by, or affiliated with, the government. Contact your mortgage lender first. Your lender can tell you whether you qualify for any government programs to prevent foreclosure. And, remember, you do not have to pay to benefit from government-backed loan modification programs.

6. A company/person you don’t know asks you to release personal financial information online. You should only give this type of information to companies that you know and trust, like your mortgage lender or a known reputable company.

7. Companies will buy your home quickly and fairly if you feel you have exhausted all avenues for modifications offered by your lender. Don’t let your home go into foreclosure just yet. You can preserve and rebuild your credit. Check with VA.gov to see how long a company has been doing business.

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