Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network Supports National Consumer Protection Week

04-Mar-2013

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 4, 2013 – The Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network (LMSPN), a national anti-scam effort comprised of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF), and NeighborWorks® America, along with national government agencies including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, supports National Consumer Protection Week (NCPW), March 3 – 9, by informing homeowners about the latest trends in loan modification scams and directing them to legitimate foreclosure prevention resources, including HPF’s HOPE Hotline for free housing counseling at 888-995-HOPE (4673).

More than 30,000 loan scams have been reported since the LMSPN campaign was launched in the fall of 2009. The efforts of the LMSPN align with the nationwide NCPW campaign, which urges Americans to fully understand their consumer rights and make better financial decisions.

Loan modification scammers have become increasingly aggressive online, using targeted web advertisements to reach homeowners who are searching for mortgage relief over the Internet. Homeowners should be aware that no one other than your lender can guarantee any form of mortgage relief. The HPF HOPE Hotline’s trained and experienced counselors can provide loan modification counseling at no cost to the consumer.

“As the ways that distressed homeowners search for mortgage help evolve, so do the tactics that foreclosure prevention scam artists use to stay front and center,” said Josh Fuhrman, Senior Vice President of Government and Community Relations at HPF. “And once a scammer finds a method that works, such as advertising ‘guaranteed’ outcomes via a website, they will use it to their full advantage. It’s important that we take time to re-educate homeowners about the techniques that scammers are using, and National Consumer Protection Week affords us a great opportunity to continue getting the word out to make sure consumers know that they can get free, unbiased mortgage guidance through resources like our Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline.”

“There is still a high level of foreclosure rescue fraud occurring in this country, with TV, online, and radio ads promoting quick, fake fixes to stop foreclosure,” said Yolanda McGill, Senior Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. “We must fight this danger to struggling homeowners, and the Loan Modification Scam Prevention Network (LMSPN) is key to that fight. Since 2010 the Lawyers’ Committee, as a leader of the LMSPN, has collected and analyzed 10,000 scam complaint reports each year in its national Loan Modification Scam database. The Network, now in its fourth year, will continue to collect scam information and use it to stop these scams.”

“Today’s announcement is a national wake-up call that mortgage fraud is a real threat to our homes and neighborhoods,” said Hollis McLoughlin, Senior Vice President of External Relations at Freddie Mac. “Freddie Mac is working with NeighborWorks America, The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and the housing industry to mobilize public awareness during National Consumer Protection Week to help America’s borrowers spot and stop loan modification scams.”

“As our housing market continues to recover from the Great Recession, we’re seeing an evolution in scams that prey on financially distressed Americans,” said Sarah Gerecke, Deputy Assistant Secretary of HUD’s Office of Housing Counseling. “Fortunately, there is a line of defense to protect families and help is only a phone call away. Thousands of HUD-approved housing counselors each day provide consumers with the information they need to make informed financial choices that save them money and help sustain the very homes they live in.”

“Fannie Mae is committed to helping struggling homeowners get the assistance they need,” said Lori Mallon, Vice President for Making Home Affordable and Foreclosure Prevention at Fannie Mae. “It is unacceptable for anyone to take advantage of somebody who is struggling with their mortgage or to charge a homeowner for services that should be free. We encourage anyone with a loan owned by Fannie Mae who is having trouble with their mortgage to reach out to their servicer, a HUD-approved housing counselor, or to Fannie Mae directly.”

“Treasury is pleased to work with other Federal and nonprofit partners to stop scammers who take advantage of struggling homeowners,” said Treasury Chief of Homeownership Preservation Darius Kingsley. “The MakingHomeAffordable.gov website connects tens of thousands of homeowners every month with trusted resources to get help with their mortgage concerns and report scam activity.”

“Mortgage loan modification scams continue to be an issue for homeowners who are in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, NeighborWorks® America CEO. “Scams present a real threat to homeowners who could be unaware of what steps to take for aid. Additionally, the numerous headlines about bank settlements and various government foreclosure help programs have laid fertile ground for new scams. The best step for homeowners who are unsure of how to avoid mortgage loan modification scams is to seek help from a HUD-approved housing counseling agency, which offers professional assistance free of charge. And, if you think you have been a victim of a scam, report it to the authorities. You can do both from www.loanscamalert.org.”

During National Consumer Protection Week, the Loan Modification Scam Alert campaign will be tweeting and posting about loan scams via Neighborworks® America’s Twitter and Facebook accounts. A full list of loan scam warning signs can be found online here.

To report a scam, visit PreventLoanScams.org or call HPF’s HOPE Hotline at 888-995-HOPE (4673). For more information, visit LoanScamAlert.org.

MEDIA CONTACTS

For HPF:
Josh Fuhrman 612-230-4024

For Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law:
Stacie Royster
202-662-8317

For Freddie Mac:
Brad German
703-903-2437

For U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development
Brian Sullivan
202-402-7527

For Fannie Mae:
Janis Smith
202-752-2078

For U.S. Treasury Department:
Andrea Risotto
202-927-8726

For NeighborWorks® America:
Douglas Robinson
202-220-2360