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Be wary of foreclosure assistance scams

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If your debt problems are beginning to wear you down, like they are for so many people today, it's important that you remain aware of the fact that there are people looking to further erode your unstable financial position to better their own. Unfortunately, financial "help" begins to show up in many forms, from payday lenders to credit counselors to phony financial counselors. Even though some of the pitches may sound like a great way out, the odds are that if it sounds to good to be true, it is.

In the same manner that so many banks were handing out home loans in the last few years, with a smile and a pat on the back, mortgage relief scammers are becoming all too common. They are happy to help, and even happier to leave with what's left of your money. Here are some signs to watch for.

First, understand that there are many legitimate and honest professionals that can help you prevent or manage a foreclosure. Nevertheless, the number of scams is growing and will continue to grow as the recession deepens. The best advice is to use your head. Look for signs of business legitimacy, such as office space, general professionalism and evidence that the company appears "permanent." In other words, even if they have an office, is it furnished with some cheap tables and only a couple of phones? Or, does it convey a sense of stability, with actual desks, offices and multiple employees? It should be easy to tell if its a fly by night outfit.

No legitimate mortgage counselor will ask you to transfer the deed to the house to someone else's name. What would be the point of them helping you keep it, right? If a conversation you're having leads in this direction, walk away. This scenario can sound really plausible, but don't buy into it. The deed is how local municipalities recognize ownership. If it changes hands, it is immensely difficult to reclaim and you'll have to move out before you have a chance to argue about it.

Also, don't let anyone talk you into paying whatever mortgage you can directly to them. That's a sure sign of criminal behavior. The bank is the only entity to which you should ever send mortgage funds. Other mortgage scams will include reasons why you should not consult an attorney or your lender, persuading you that it's a waste of money and that their service is all you need. Think for a moment why someone would say that. Again, a little common sense is all you will need to avoid something so blatantly felonious.

The truth is, if you are behind on your mortgage, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is your best bet for keeping your family's home. A solid Chapter 13 payment plan will catch you up on your missed payments and stop the foreclosure proceedings immediately. Stop waiting around for your lender to come to the table! Speak to an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can save your home now.

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