Beware of Mortgage Rescue Scams
Authored By: Iowa Legal Aid
Are you a homeowner who is behind in mortgage payments or facing foreclosure? Help is available but you need to be careful. Many businesses and persons will promise to help you with mortgage problems and save your home. Many times, these promises are not true. They may be scams to get money without providing any help at all.
How do you spot a mortgage rescue scam?
If someone offers to help with your mortgage or foreclosure problems, you may not know for sure if it is a mortgage scam. But there are important warning signs:
- Never work with anyone who wants money up-front to help with mortgage problems. It’s illegal in Iowa to charge any fee until all services under this type of contract are provided. You may be able to get free services in the state of Iowa from certified housing counselors and Iowa Legal Aid lawyers for mortgage and foreclosure problems.
- Beware of anyone who wants you to sign papers immediately before helping you. Never sign over the Deed to your home, for example, in exchange for some promise to get help in the future with your mortgage.
- Beware of someone who tells you to send mortgage payments to anyone other than your lender without your lender’s approval. Some mortgage scammers tell you to send mortgage payments directly to them. Then they keep the money instead.
- Beware of anyone claiming to be able to help you with federal programs for struggling homeowners. Some of these programs are Making Home Affordable, Independent Foreclosure Review, or National Mortgage Settlement. These are real federal programs to help homeowners. Many mortgage rescue scammers advertise that they will provide help with these programs in order to seem trustworthy.
- Beware of out-of-state lawyers who claim they can help you get a more affordable mortgage with your lender or help save your home from foreclosure. Many out-of-state lawyers contact Iowa homeowners or advertise in Iowa that they can help with mortgage problems. Often these lawyers charge lots of money before agreeing to help you, but they do not do anything.
How do I get free government-approved help with mortgage/foreclosure problems?
The State of Iowa provides a free service to all Iowa homeowners who need help to save their homes due to mortgage problems. This service is Iowa Mortgage Help (877.622.4866). Iowa Mortgage Help is a partnership of state agencies, certified HUD housing counselors, Iowa Mediation Service, and Iowa Legal Aid. By calling Iowa Mortgage Help, struggling homeowners will get free housing counseling and help with getting changes to make mortgage payments more affordable. Free legal assistance may be available if the homeowner is facing foreclosure.
Last review 11/29/12