Loan Modification Scams

In Los Angeles, two thirds of the families facing foreclosure who walk through the doors of our HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have been scammed by so-called mortgage modification consultants. These consultants promise the world to vulnerable homeowners desperate to stay in their homes, charge advanced fees as high as $5,000 and then take the money and run.

This is the biggest dilemma a homeowner is faced with when looking for help to avoid foreclosure. Who to choose, where to start and who is legit? It’s not a secret that nearly 75% of Loan modification companies are fraudulent or scam artists.

Loan modifications are in high demand right now. This makes it easy for scammers to pray on innocent people who usually will end up victims. Many lose their homes and the fee they invested for mitigation services. What’s worse is, many homeowners entrust their last dime to an outside source who is supposed to help them.

Most of these scams ask homeowners for an upfront fee in order to start a loan modification program. At best, the homeowners may end up paying for work that is completed by the group asking for the money, however, it’s work that likely could have been done for free through other non-profit organizations or loan-modification assistance programs (i.e. Community Housing Council, a non-profit based in Fresno). At worst, the homeowners pay for work that isn’t done at all.

Just like after a hurricane hits, where unscrupulous contractors and repair people may collect money for repairs and then not do anything, there are numerous rogue and dishonest operators and companies (many of whom are unlicensed) that have appeared in the wake of the current economic downturn — and more are popping up every day. They make false promises about their abilities to help get you a loan modification, collect money up front, and then do nothing or next to nothing. They are predators who take advantage of those who are or may be vulnerable. The most common loan modification scam involves the collection of advance fee in exchange for a promise of a sustainable loan modification ,however, once the advance fee is collected, little or nothing is done and the scammer moves on to the next victim.

These are predatory schemes designed to rob Americans of their savings and potentially their homes,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said. “We will shut down fraudulent companies more quickly than before. We will target companies that otherwise would have gone unnoticed under the radar.

The Federal Trade Commission has sent warning letters to 71 companies it says were running suspicious advertisements. The agency also said it filed three new complaints against Northridge, Calif.-based Federal Loan Modification Law Center LLP, Newport Beach, Calif.-based Bailout hud gov, and Clearwater, Fla.-based Home Assure LLC, and the operators of those companies.