Avoid foreclosure-prevention scams: 3 tips

By Les Christie, staff writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- With mortgage delinquencies at an all-time high, there are lots of desperate homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure -- and tons of scam artists trying to take advantage of that.

The fraudsters promise the moon but rarely deliver any help.

In Times Square on Friday, the non-profit community development organization NeighborWorks launched a campaign to heighten awareness of foreclosure prevention scams.

"[For scam artists,] the all time high foreclosure rate is an opportunity in the same way that pushing toxic subprime loans was during the housing boom," said Bernell Grier, CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York (NHS), a NeighborWorks affiliate.

From October through the end of April, community development groups handled more than 10,000 reports of foreclosure-prevention scams, according to Susan Jouard, a spokeswoman for NHS.

Grier said alert consumers can identify fraud from legitimate help if they're aware of these three tell-tale signs.

Avoid anyone who:

Asks for a fee in advance. If you pay them these fees, which can range from $1,000 to as much as $5,000, that's probably the last you'll ever hear from them. Most never even go through the motions of talking to lenders and trying to work out modifications.

Tells you they can guarantee foreclosure will stop. Nobody can do that, especially before they find out more about your individual circumstances.

Urges you to stop paying your mortgage and pay them instead. They're trying to add to the money they already bilked you out of by keeping up the pretense of trying for a modification.

Many community groups, including those affiliated with NeighborWorks, offer expert, free help for homeowners, but they often don't have the funds to advertise their services. It's easier for the scammers to invest in fliers, mailers, even Internet and TV advertising to get their message out.

"Call us if you're having a problem with your property," said Grier. "You shouldn't have to pay for these services." To top of page


Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Overnight Avg Rate Latest Change Last Week
30 yr fixed3.84%3.80%
15 yr fixed2.95%2.90%
5/1 ARM3.23%3.05%
30 yr refi3.84%3.81%
15 yr refi3.01%2.96%
Rate data provided
by Bankrate.com
View rates in your area
 
Find personalized rates:
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,677.55 4.95 0.03%
Nasdaq 4,759.35 1.47 0.03%
S&P 500 2,052.63 0.81 0.04%
Treasuries 1.82 0.01 0.33%
Data as of 10:48am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 15.81 0.08 0.49%
Apple Inc 113.57 0.59 0.52%
General Electric Co 24.51 0.03 0.13%
Mattel Inc 27.62 -0.43 -1.52%
Intel Corp 35.63 -0.81 -2.24%
Data as of 10:33am ET

Sections

Ebay and Gannett are two companies that Carl Icahn has targeted. Is it really good for long-term investors? More

Syriza's victory in Greek elections has sent a charge of worry through Europe, and puts Greece's economic future in doubt. So what happens next? More

It's illegal to fly drones into the White House property -- in case it's not already obvious. More

First introduced in 2007 as way of sifting through Twitter's newsfeed, the hashtag has since spawned new tech businesses and become a pop culture phenom that retailers are cashing in on. More

Target-date funds have become a wildly popular option among those seeking a hands-off approach to retirement investing. But not all of these funds are created equally. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2015 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2015. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2015 and/or its affiliates.