Internet Enemies – Watch Out for Online Mortgage Fraud
California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris recently announced arrests related to six fraudulent websites that allegedly targeted struggling homeowners with claims of reducing mortgage debt for an upfront fee. Not only is charging an upfront fee illegal, but the individuals behind the websites then did nothing to satisfy the debt with the lender, instead allegedly creating fraudulent legal documents that made homeowners believe they were getting the help they needed. HPF compliments Attorney General Harris for taking action to shut down these sites before more homeowners fall victim.
Unfortunately, online loan scams like these continue to trip up struggling homeowners. HPF’s anti-scam counselors have collected nearly 30,000 scam complaints in total and continue to receive hundreds of calls each week from homeowners who suspect they are the victim of a foreclosure rescue scam, many of which involve a company that operates online. While scam organizations use a wide range of tactics to get in front of distressed homeowners, including traditional marketing methods like sending out flyers or making cold calls, they’ve become increasingly aggressive online, where they use targeted advertising to zero in on consumers searching with keywords like “loan modification” or “foreclosure help.” And as scam organizations get smarter about how to digitally target homeowners, consumers continue to live more and more of their lives online – and that include managing their finances or searching for mortgage solutions.
When searching online for mortgage help, HPF has several tips. If an organization is claiming to be affiliated with the government or a nonprofit, check to see if the web address ends in “.gov” or “.org.,” respectively. That’s an easy way to weed out many unscrupulous for-profit companies that may use a “.com” address. Additionally, check to see if the company is accredited with the Better Business Bureau (BBB); if not, or if the company has complaints or negative reviews on BBB or other consumer review websites, it may be a red flag. Other warning signs of foreclosure avoidance scams can be found online here.
The very, very best way for homeowners to protect themselves against scam organizations is to avoid them entirely by calling an HPF counselor – not only can counselors guide you through all of the options that are available for your unique housing circumstances, but they do it all for FREE. Call HPF at 888-995-HOPE (4673) today to get started.