Avoid Foreclosure Scams with These Official Resources
Sign up for our FREE Monthly Email Newsletter
In addition to keeping in the financial know, you may be interested in checking your credit score and report.
¹The credit scores provided under the offers described here use the Equifax Credit Score, which is a proprietary credit model developed by Equifax. The Equifax Credit Score and 3-Bureau scores are each based on the Equifax Credit Score model, but calculated using the information in your Equifax, Experian and TransUnion credit files. The Equifax Credit Score is intended for your own educational use. It is also commercially available to third parties along with numerous other credit scores and models in the marketplace. Please keep in mind third parties are likely to use a different score when evaluating your creditworthiness. Also, third parties will take into consideration items other than your credit score or information found in your credit file, such as your income.
²The Automatic Fraud Alert feature is made available to consumers by Equifax Information Services LLC and fulfilled on its behalf by Equifax Consumer Services LLC.
³Equifax Credit Report Control™ is only available while you have a current subscription to Equifax Complete Premier. Locking your credit file with Equifax Credit Report Control will prevent access to your Equifax credit file by certain third parties, such as credit grantors or other companies and agencies. Credit Report Control will not prevent access to your credit file at any other credit reporting agency, and will not prevent access to your Equifax credit file by companies like Equifax Personal Solutions which provide you with access to your credit report or credit score or monitor your credit file; Federal, state and local government agencies; companies reviewing your application for employment; companies that have a current account or relationship with you, and collection agencies acting on behalf of those whom you owe; for fraud detection and prevention purposes; and companies that wish to make pre-approved offers of credit or insurance to you. To opt out of such pre-approved offers, visit www.optoutprescreen.com/.
4We will require you to provide your payment information when you sign up and we will immediately charge your card $4.95. After that, we will charge the card $19.95 for each month you continue your subscription. You may cancel at any time; however, we do not provide partial month refunds.
Equifax® is a registered trademark and Equifax Complete™ Premier is a trademark of Equifax, Inc. © 2014, Equifax Inc., Atlanta, Georgia. All rights reserved.
In the wake of the Great Recession and the damage done to the real estate market, many homeowners have an underwater mortgage or facing foreclosure. The government has set up programs intended to help, but unfortunately many scammers have also jumped on the bandwagon.
According to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), an independent national nonprofit that helps homeowners avoid foreclosure, mortgage foreclosure scams are up nearly 60 percent this year. This surge coincides with the federal government’s newly launched programs.
“Regretfully, every new government initiative spawns a slew of foreclosure avoidance scams, often from the same cast of characters doing business under various names to avoid easy detection and identification,” warned Colleen Hernandez, CEO of HPF, in a press release.
“Most of these scams involve individuals supposedly offering mortgage foreclosure avoidance assistance that trained HPF counselors provide at no cost. Sadly, with most scams, no meaningful services are ever provided,” Hernandez said.
So how do you know when you’re dealing with the real thing? I recently provided a list of loan scam red flags, and now I’m also providing a list of the government programs, and their official sites, below. It is important to note that homeowners can get access to all of these programs directly, without paying a third party for the information.
Making Home Affordable (MHA) programs
HARP: The Home Affordable Refinance Program is designed for underwater mortgage homeowners who are current on their payments but who wish to refinance based on the current value of their home. Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac must own the mortgage, and the current loan-to-value (LTV) ratio must be more than 80 percent.
Find out if Fannie Mae owns your loan.
Find out if Freddie Mac owns your loan.
HAMP: The Home Affordable Modification Program is available to employed homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payments. To be eligible, you must have a mortgage payment that is more than 31 percent of your monthly gross (pre-tax) income, and you must be delinquent or in danger of falling behind on mortgage payments.
UP: If you are unemployed, the Home Affordable Unemployment Program may be able to reduce your mortgage payments to 31 percent of your income or suspend them entirely for 12 months.
PRA: MHA’s Principal Reduction Alternative is designed to help homeowners who are upside down on their loans. To be eligible, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac cannot own your loan, and your home must be worth significantly less than what you’re paying on it.
To see the full list of programs and requirements, visit the Making Home Affordable official site.
Independent Foreclosure Review
The Independent Foreclosure Review was commissioned by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The program allows homeowners who were foreclosed on to request a review of the process. To be eligible, the foreclosure action must have taken place on the primary residence between January 1, 2009, and December 31, 2010, and a participating lender must have serviced the loan.
Homeowners can complete or download the review form directly on the Independent Foreclosure Review site. If a third party is asking you for money to assist you in the process, it’s probably a scam.
To see the full list of requirements and list of participating lenders, visit the Independent Foreclosure Review official site.
Help With My Bank
Having trouble dealing with your bank? You don’t have to pay someone else to get things done—you can get them moving yourself. Through HelpWithMyBank.gov, the OCC gives you resources to file a complaint against your national bank online and to get answers about everything from mortgages to bank record-keeping.
If you’d prefer to have a third-party advocate to your bank on your behalf, check out HUD.gov for a list of HUD-approved counselors in your area.
Ilyce R. Glink is the author of several books, including 100 Questions Every First-Time Home Buyer Should Ask and Buy, Close, Move In!. She blogs about money and real estate at ThinkGlink.com and at the Home Equity blog for CBS MoneyWatch.
Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.