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Foreclosure Rescue Scams:
Another Potential Stress for Homeowners in Distress

... Continued From Previous Page

Rent-to-Buy Scheme

You’re told to surrender the title as part of a deal that allows you to remain in your home as a renter, and to buy it back during the next few years. You may be told that surrendering the title will permit a borrower with a better credit rating to secure new financing – and prevent the loss of the home. But the terms of these deals usually are so burdensome that buying back your home becomes impossible. You lose the home, and the scam artist walks off with all or most of your home’s equity. Worse yet, when the new borrower defaults on the loan, you’re evicted.

In a variation, the scam artist raises the rent over time to the point that the former homeowner can’t afford it. After missing several rent payments, the renter – the former homeowner – is evicted, leaving the “rescuer” free to sell the house.

In a similar equity-skimming situation, the scam artist offers to find a buyer for your home, but only if you sign over the deed and move out. The scam artist promises to pay you a portion of the profit when the home sells. Once you transfer the deed, the scam artist simply rents out the home and pockets the proceeds while your lender proceeds with the foreclosure. In the end, you lose your home – and you’re still responsible for the unpaid mortgage. That’s because transferring the deed does nothing to transfer your mortgage obligation.

Fraudulent foreclosure “rescue” professionals use half truths and outright lies to sell services that promise relief and then fail to deliver.

Bankruptcy Foreclosure

The scam artist may promise to negotiate with your lender or to get refinancing on your behalf if you pay a fee up front. Instead of contacting your lender or refinancing your loan, though, the scam artist pockets the fee and files a bankruptcy case in your name – sometimes without your knowledge.

A bankruptcy filing often stops a home foreclosure, but only temporarily. What’s more, the bankruptcy process is complicated, expensive, and unforgiving. For example, if you fail to attend the first meeting with the creditors, the bankruptcy judge will dismiss the case and the foreclosure proceedings will continue.

If this happens, you could lose the money you paid to the scam artist as well as your home. Worse yet, a bankruptcy stays on your credit report for 10 years, and can make it difficult to obtain credit, buy a home, get life insurance, or sometimes get a job.

Where to Find Legitimate Help

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage or you have gotten a foreclosure notice, contact your lender immediately. You may be able to negotiate a new repayment schedule. Remember that lenders generally don’t want to foreclose; it costs them money.

Other foreclosure prevention options, include reinstatement and forbearance.

You also may contact a credit counselor through the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), a nonprofit organization that operates the national 24/7 toll-free hotline (1.888.995.HOPE) with free, bilingual, personalized assistance to help at-risk homeowners avoid foreclosure. HPF is a member of the HOPE NOW Alliance of mortgage servicers, mortgage market participants and counselors.

Red Flags

If you’re looking for foreclosure prevention help, avoid any business that:

  • guarantees to stop the foreclosure process
    – no matter what your circumstances

  • instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer,
    or credit or housing counselor

  • collects a fee before providing you with any services

  • accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer

  • encourages you to lease your home so you can
    buy it back over time

  • offers to fill out paperwork for you

  • 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

  • offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that
    is not set by the housing market at the time of sale

  • pressures you to sign paperwork you haven’t had
    a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.

If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage or you have
gotten a foreclosure notice, contact your lender immediately.

 


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