Be alert for housing-related scams
Scams. They seem to sprout up like weeds during the spring, and hyenas during times of disasters!
In our last blog we talked a bit about scams in general and how to avoid them. After reviewing that today, we want to talk about housing-related scams in particular.
As we mentioned last week, the Federal Trade Commission has some succinct information on how to avoid scams. In addition, the commission lists some of the current scams to watch out for on their website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.
In their brochure, “How to Avoid a Scam,” which is available online, they list four signs that something is a scam:
1. Scammers pretend to be from an organization you know.
2. Scammers say there is a problem or a prize.
3. Scammers pressure you to act immediately.
4. Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.
So many interesting economic dynamics have shifted during these last two years including major changes in the housing market.
Unfortunately, that’s often a great time for scammers to concoct a new deception or resurrect an old one in order to cheat someone out of their money and make a fast, illegal buck!
“There’s always going to be someone who jumps in who is going to make money in times like these,” said our longtime housing counselor, Julie Galligan.
Before we get much further, we want to encourage you to call Julie at (360) 533-7828 with any questions you may have regarding any housing issues from fraud and scams, landlord and tenant rights, improving your credit score to buy a house, helping you figure out how to avoid foreclosure. Her consultation services are always free.
We are with NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor a nonprofit organization that works to provide safe, affordable housing opportunities to residents of our county.
Mortgage moratorium lifted soon
During the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when many people were losing jobs or job security the federal government declared a moratorium on foreclosures for not paying mortgages. The intent was to allow people time to pay up their mortgages once things returned to normal and also to not contribute to a homeless problem during a pandemic.
June 30 is now the date that the moratorium will be lifted. That means that people who are behind on the mortgage payments will need to work with their lender to come up with a payment plan so as to not enter into foreclosure and possibly lose their home.
If you’ve gotten behind in your mortgage payment due to a job loss during COVID – or for any reason, really – it is critical to make arrangements with your lender. If you want help doing that, you can call us.
We realize that mortgages and foreclosures and all the paperwork isn’t something most people deal with a lot, but we do and we know how to simplify it for you.
Foreclosure scammers will appear
If history is any indication, and it is, Julie expects to start seeing various foreclosure-related scams appearing soon!
Of course, these scammers don’t wear nametags, saying who they really are instead they come across as friendly “helpers.”
To lure potential victims, they use various kinds of advertising and will even look for foreclosure notices and then call the intended victim to “help.”
They will usually make a promise to help you keep or sell your home for a fee.
There is legitimate government- approved mortgage and foreclosure help, just make sure that is in fact who you are dealing with. (Again, give us a call before you give anyone any personal information or money!)
The website, usa.gov/housing-scams contains some great information regarding tricks that scammers use:
Offering to act as a go-between with your lender or to negotiate with your lender to refinance your loan.
Advising you that they can stop foreclosure by “helping” you file for bankruptcy.
Encouraging you to sign fake foreclosure rescue or mortgage documents
Claiming that they can perform a forensic mortgage loan audit to help you hold onto your home.
Offering you fake legal help.
Don’t send mortgage payments to any company that is not your loan servicer.
Don’t sign any documents without having them reviewed by a lawyer or independent expert.
Don’t stop making mortgage payments.
Don’t forget that real help for the government is always free!
Don’t give anyone your personal information, Social Security number, or bank information. Only share this information if you’ve confirmed that the company is legitimate!