The Federal Trade Commission is taking legal action against several foreclosure
scam artists who are accused of falsely claiming they can modify homeowners’
mortgages and offer other types of foreclosure relief. Many of the companies
have even gone as far as impersonating government programs such as the
Making Home Affordable program and Hope Now mortgage alliance program.
Among the defendants with whom the FTC has reached a settlement is Making
Home Affordable, a group which the FTC alleged impersonated MakingHomeAffordable.gov,
a legitimate government website that helps eligible homeowners refinance
or modify their mortgages. The defendants bought advertising links on
the results pages of Internet search engines, so that consumers looking
for “making home affordable” were diverted to commercial websites
pitching loan-modification services or that sold the consumers’ personal
information to such profit-seeking operations.
Another defendant reaching a settlement with the FTC was New Hope Modifications,
which was charged with falsely claiming it could obtain mortgage loan
modifications, falsely promising a money-back guarantee and masquerading
as part of the federally-endorsed HOPE NOW Alliance mortgage assistance network.
These particular foreclosure scams that involve mimicking government programs
are some of the most insidious and dangerous scams because they leverage
the trust of victims to steal thousands of dollars from those who are
already struggling financially. And many of these scam artists have websites,
phone numbers and marketing materials that are quite convincing to the
uninformed especially those facing the prospect of losing their home who
might feel desperate enough to believe claims that they would not otherwise
believe. But there are usually two very big red flags that something is
amiss with these so-called foreclosure relief companies 1) they charge
up-front fees 2) if they are claiming to be a government affiliated agency
but they don’t have a .gov website, then you are probably dealing
with a scam artist.