Avoiding Mortgage Loan Modification Scams

There are a lot of people having trouble keeping up with their mortgage payments, and there are also a lot of people and companies offering fraudulent “help” that only makes things worse.

If you are at risk of foreclosure, there are legitimate ways to get help. You can contact your lender directly, call the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau at 855-411-2372, who will connect you with a HUD-approved counselor, or find out if your financial institution works with a credit counseling agency (REGIONAL members can contact Greenpath Financial Wellness at 800-550-1961).

Here are a few things to NEVER do:

Never pay an upfront fee to any company offering mortgage modification help. They will either take your money (and make your financial situation worse) and do absolutely nothing, or take your money and do something you could have done on your own for free (such as calling your mortgage lender and asking for a loan modification).

Never sign over the deed to your home to anyone.

Never believe promises of “guaranteed” modifications, or any offers to remove negative information from your credit report.

Never believe anyone claiming that your mortgage (or any other loans) are actually not legally binding because of some obscure piece of legislation they claim to have discovered, and that all you have to do is stop making payments, then tell your creditors that you don’t agree that your debt was a binding agreement under this or that section of federal law. No such clause exists, your debt agreements ARE binding, and you can end up being accused of fraud for pulling this stunt.

Never buy into promises of shortcuts. They’re not real.

Never do business with anyone selling mortgage help as a “forensic auditor.” Never make payments to anyone other than your lender, unless you’re using an accredited, reputable debt management program (such as offered by the aforementioned Greenpath) that you have thoroughly researched. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (https://www.nfcc.org) is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 that certifies credit counselors. Make sure the company you’re working with is certified by the NFCC, and look into their other certifications, but remember that anyone can save logos from the internet and put them on their own website. Don’t assume that an NFCC logo on a website means anything until you verify it yourself.