How to Avoid Loan Modification Fraud

From the San Diego Union-Tribune
By Lily Leung
Monday, March 28, 2011

As homeowners across the state continue to struggle with mortgage payments, chances are there are scammers promising them false financial relief.

Officials at the California Department of Real Estate – who have handled thousands of loan-modification complaints since late 2008 – have issued an alert about mortgage fraudsters in hopes of deterring more schemes. Loan modifications are permanent changes in loan terms, such as the reduction of interest rates, that would make monthly payments more affordable.

“The alerts go out when we’re trying to get ahead of the curve on something,” said agency spokesman Tom Pool.

Some tips to keep in mind when considering a loan modification:

–Never pay upfront fees. They are illegal. The same goes for fees for short sales, deed-in-lieus of foreclosure and mortgage-relief services.

–Be wary of people who guarantee success.

–Be cautious of testimonials that seem too good to be true.

–Verify records of real estate license holders and check for any disciplinary actions.

–Use the Internet as a research tool.

–Contact a counseling agency that’s approved by HUD. (List of offices.)