The Independent Community Bankers of America is issuing tips for consumers on avoiding fraudulent offers of foreclosure and refinancing assistance.
The ICBA and nearly 8,000 community banks in the U.S. advise borrowers to contact their mortgage lender first if they are having financial troubles.
This direct approach will diminish the likelihood that borrowers will be taken in by “those pitches offered by way of unsolicited phone calls, e-mails or letters that appeal to your worst fears,” the ICBA said in a statement.
“Too many Americans are still being targeted by scams that promise to help them avoid foreclosure or refinance their existing mortgage to a lower rate,” said Jim MacPhee, ICBA chairman and CEO of Kalamazoo County State Bank in Schoolcraft, Mich. “The best protection is good information.”
Community bankers say you should be wary of any company that does the following:
- Guarantees to stop the foreclosure process—no matter what your circumstances.
- Instructs you to not contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor.
- Collects a fee before providing you with any services.
- Accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer.
- Encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time.
- Tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to them, rather than your lender.
- Tells you to transfer your property deed or title to them.
- Offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is not set by the housing market at the time of sale.
- Offers to fill out paperwork for you.
- Pressures you to sign paperwork you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.
If you have been the victim of a loan scam, you should contact your state attorney general’s office to file a complaint. For additional tips, you can also check the following resources: