Your BBB® is receiving an increased number of calls from homeowners contacted by entities claiming to be mortgage servicers. People are calling and mailing homeowners, pretending to be their mortgage company, offering fake loan modifications and “trial payment plans” to lower mortgage payments. They may send genuine-looking letters with the logo of the homeowner’s mortgage company, the homeowner’s account number, and deceptive contact information that routes homeowners to criminals instead of their mortgage servicer. They may also trick caller IDs to show the number of your mortgage company. Homeowners are told that their loans may be permanently modified if they make three trial period payments and follow certain other requirements. Homeowners are usually instructed to send payments via wire transfer or money order to bogus addresses claiming to be their mortgage company, only to later discover that they have been sending payments to criminals and have lost thousands of dollars while their real mortgage company has not received any payment.
Other common mortgage modification scams include:
- Charging upfront fees for mortgage modification services and then providing little or no assistance;
- Falsely guaranteeing or implying that modification applications will be approved (often through falsely claiming affiliation with HAMP, other government programs, or mortgage servicers);
- Tricking homeowners into transferring part or all of their property interests to a criminal, usually in an effort to drain equity from a property.
Be wary of letters and calls offering a mortgage modification or claim to be a pre-approved modification, especially if the homeowner is asked to provide any payment or personal information.
Homeowners applying for a mortgage modification should confirm any modification offers or approvals directly with their mortgage servicer to ensure it is genuine before paying money or providing personal information.
Because criminals may provide fake contact information, homeowners should contact their mortgage servicer using the contact information on their regular mortgage statements to make sure that an offer or approval is genuine. If the offer or approval is for a HAMP modification, homeowners call the federal government’s Making Home Affordable hotline at 888-995-4673.
Criminals often request money transfers including Western Union, MoneyGram, wire transfer, prepaid Visa and even iTunes cards, often using a fake address for payments. Before sending a mortgage payment to any address other than what is on the regular mortgage statements, homeowners should verify that the address is connected with their mortgage servicer.
Be wary of any individual or company that guarantees a successful result, since only the mortgage servicer can approve a mortgage modification offer. Homeowners should also be wary of any individuals who encourage homeowners to stop contacting their mortgage servicer or to stop making mortgage payments. Homeowners should not have to pay a fee in order to apply for a mortgage modification and can get FREE help from a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-certified housing counselor to apply for a modification or other relief.
To check the reliability of a HAMP offer or approval, report a suspicious letter or call, or get free mortgage loan assistance, call the Making Home Affordable hotline at 888-995-4673 or visit their website at makinghomeaffordable.gov.
If a fake HAMP offer or approval is received, report it to the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program at 877-744-2009 or sigtarp.gov.
If a fake modification offer or approval is received by mail, report it to the US Postal Inspection Service at 877-876-2455 or postalinspectors.uspis.gov.
For a referral to a free housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), 800-569-4287 | www.hud.gov.
For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/evansville.