Consumers facing foreclosure often find themselves approached over the phone or mail by so-called “foreclosure rescue” companies that make promises, such as “Stop foreclosure now” or “Guaranteed to stop your foreclosure.” These advertisements often are based around a basic scam that allows a swindler to steal hundreds or thousands of dollars from you or, even worse, obtain the title to your house.
Without fail, foreclosure-rescue firms inform homeowners that they can help you deal with your lender and assist you in avoiding foreclosure in exchange for a substantial upfront fee. (Upfront fees are illegal under Colorado law.) The companies also might advertise a “special” relationship with lenders and a “proven” record of helping homeowners avoid foreclosure. Often these advertisements are deceptive and geared toward getting you to fork over an upfront fee.
Some firms will have you sign over to them the title to your home in exchange for ongoing payments, akin to a rent-to-own arrangement, whereby you will buy back your own home. Ultimately these scams result in homeowners being out thousands of dollars in “rent” and without a home.
The red flags consumers should look out for are:
- An upfront fee in exchange for saving your home or helping you avoid foreclosure;
- Any admonishment from a company that you stop making your mortgage payments or funnel your payments through an outside company;
- Instructions to ignore mail or other communications from your lender;
- Requirements that you pay via cashiers check or wire service;
- Requests to buy your house for a price not keeping with the housing market at the time of sale;
- Offers to fill out paperwork concerning your home or mortgage on your behalf; or,
- Pressure to sign paperwork you have not read or do not understand.
Consumers should avoid foreclosure-relief firms. The Office of the Attorney General encourages consumers contemplating bringing in a third party to assist them with their mortgage problems to first contact the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline at 1-877-601-HOPE (4673). For more information on the hotline, visit their Web site at www.coloradoforeclosurehotline.org.
To file a complaint against a foreclosure-relief company, visit www.coloradoattorneygeneral.gov/complaint.