Oh, What a (Mortgage) Relief It Is!
- Written by Tracy Scott
- Category: Articles
Here's what you need to know about this growing scam.
Job loss or another financial emergency can make a homeowner feel like they're drowning in past-due mortgage payments. Scammers are quick to throw desperate homeowners inflatable life jackets with gaping holes, torn seams, and – well, you get the picture. Bad actors have no intention of pulling you to safety. Here's what you need to know about this growing scam.
(Scammer and homeowner phone conversation)
Mortgage Scammer: That's right. You don't need to communicate with your mortgage company. We'll take care of everything.
Phil: That would be great. I don't want to lose my home.
Mortgage Scammer: Don't worry, Phil. We just need the $399 deposit so Merry Mortgage's experienced legal team can get started.
Phil: But I don't have the money.
Mortgage Scammer: Now Phil, you don't expect us to work for free, do you? Once we have the deposit, we can get started on your loan modification. Besides, you don't have to make any mortgage payments while we work with your mortgage company.
Phil: How much is this going to cost me – total?
Mortgage Scammer: That will depend on how much paperwork we have to do. Remember, we guarantee your lender will change your loan to a lower payment and forgive your past-due balance. That's just how good our team is.
Phil: But, why don't you want me to communicate with my mortgage company?
Despite Phil's uneasiness, he wired $399 from his bank account and hoped for the best. He followed the fraudster's instructions and didn't pay his mortgage for the next several months. Phil never received notification from his lender about a loan modification or any other changes to his loan. When he finally contacted his lender, they said no one from Merry Mortgage had contacted them about the loan. Sadly, Phil must vacate the property within 10 days. The home was sold in foreclosure.
Mortgage Relief Scam Red Flags
It might be a mortgage relief scam if the company representative:
- Discourages you from speaking with your lender
- Demands upfront payment before you receive services
- Requires payment via wire transfer or cashier's check
- Fails to warn that you could lose the home if you stop making mortgage payments
- Ignores requests for documentation showing the loan changes your lender has agreed to make
- Insists that you temporarily transfer the deed to your home to the mortgage relief company until everything is resolved
If you're having trouble paying your mortgage, contact your lender or speak with a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) counselor to discuss your options.
What If I Suspect a Mortgage Relief Scam?
If you suspect a mortgage relief scam, report it immediately to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state attorney general. It might not be too late to get your money back even if you've already paid a scammer. Review the FTC's What To Do if You Were Scammed page for specific steps to recover your money.