We’ve all heard about the government being crooked. Let’s see what takes the cake when a crooked home owners association is thrown into the mix. I’m specifically speaking about HOPE Services and we’re going to see what happens when the FTC comes calling.
Here’s what happened: The FTC is saying that a group of individuals and companies who have been doing business with HOPE Services were told that any consumers (including themselves) who are facing foreclosure could seek help from government-backed programs, which are legitimate, for example, Making Home Affordable, but only after the consumers made 3 monthly trial payments into a so-called mortgage lender’s trust account. Then, according to the FTC, HOPE Services had turned their backs on the consumers and instead of providing help for them, HOPE Services decided to pocket all of the money instead. While doing so, HOPE Services also strongly advised homeowners from speaking with a lawyer or to their mortgage lender.
In the long run, HOPE Services provided absolutely no amount of help to these homeowners. Individuals who struggled financially lost almost $2 million. Some of these people were forced into bankruptcy because they had no other choice and no money left to make a choice. Some people, ultimately lost their homes. It’s saddening to see when innocent people facing possible homelessness feel that they need to reach out for help and instead of receiving the help they desperately need, they get turned over and used for every penny they spent on their false hope.
Fortunately, there are ways to weed out any scammers. Look for these signs when you think you are at risk of being involved in this type of scam:
• “Guaranteed” fixes. Nobody is able to guarantee whether or not they are able to stop a foreclosure.
• Fees up-front. Completely avoid paying in advance to anyone who claims to possess the necessary power to stop a foreclosure and promises the same for you or guarantees you a new mortgage.
• Stop paying, stop talking. Don’t speak with anyone who advises you to not pay your lender, or to not speak to an attorney with your lender.
• Pressure to sign. Are you being unfairly rushed by someone? Are you being advised to sign over the title or deed to your house to someone other than your lender? Those are both red flags.
If you’ve thoroughly read above, you can understand that these types of scammers are targeting individuals who particularly are struggling with their mortgages. Some of these scammers claim to be able to “save” homeowners from foreclosures, whilst others promise to modify your loan but for a fee of course. The Federal Trade Commission, the nation’s consumer protection agency, wants you to know how to avoid scams that could make your housing situation go from bad, to possibly the worst outcome reachable.
In Need of Assistance?
Get in contact with your mortgage company as soon as possible if you’re struggling even the littlest bit with paying your mortgage or if you get a notice regarding foreclosure. Keeping the lines of communication with your mortgage company is critical and severing those lines in any way could have absolutely devastating effects imposed on you if you ever find yourself in this type of situation.
You can also call 1-888-995-HOPE for free, personalized advice from housing counseling agencies certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This national hotline which is open 24/7, is operated by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit member of the HOPE NOW Alliance of mortgage industry members and HUD-certified counseling agencies. You can also take a look at a free online guide by visiting https://www.hopenow.com.
If it peaks your interest, you can also head over to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov to indulge yourself with information about the President’s plan to help financially strapped homeowners in trouble with their mortgage.
Mortgage Relief Scams
Possibly losing your home to foreclosure is extremely frightening. The fact that scam artists prowl on innocent homeowners is equally terrifying. Many companies say that they can get a change to your loan that would reduce your monthly mortgage payment or that they could take other steps to save your home. Some claim that they have an extremely high rate of good customer feedback and even have a money-back guarantee. Other companies may state that they’re associated with the government or your lender and they’ll still promise “help”.
Filing Complaints with FTC
If you find yourself in any of the situations above, feel free to head over to https://www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov where you can get immediate help. To file a complaint, you’ll want to look at the categories of complaints listed on the left side of the page. There are several categories of complaints and when one is chosen, it will present you with sub-categories. You’ll need to choose your sub-category and continue on to answer several questions related to your issue before speaking about it in your own words. All complaints from consumers help the FTC to detect possible patterns of fraud and abuse.