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Scammers Show Up When Mortgage Modifications Fall Through

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We recently shared a sampling of the Federal Trade Commission’s recent tips for saving your home amid the financial fears of foreclosure. Being proactive, applying for a loan modification, and working directly with your mortgage servicer to for a better financial future in your own home sweet home. But amid this timely advice for those seeking shelter from those who might otherwise take theirs, it’s worth mentioning news that when banks won’t help a beleaguered borrower modify his or her mortgage, scammers are stepping in to take advantage of these households in need. According to a new report from Laura Bassett of The Huffington Post, an "elaborate network" of affiliated con artist companies, operating under such names as "Save My Home," "Save My Home Now," "Express Modifications" and "Express Home Solutions," have become very good at making bad promises to average Americans that, in exchange for thousands of dollars, they could, in return, get their paying clients lower monthly mortgage rates 60 to 90 days. In turn, these clients were told to stop paying their mortgages in the meantime. But what sounded like a good deal at the time has now turned into a nightmare for these same homeowners, with only late fees, penalties, default notices and dings to his credit history to show for the money they paid these companies upfront. What’s worse? Any subsequent attempts to get loan modifications are denied. "In typical fashion, these entities pose as experts on mortgage modification issues and promise various relief services in exchange for upfront fees," the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, an advocacy group which filed the lawsuit last week with help from pro bono attorneys from Davis Polk & Wardwell, said in a statement recounted by HuffPost. "Ultimately, the companies fail to provide the promised services, cheating vulnerable homeowners out of thousands of dollars and leaving them in financial turmoil." WARNING: Save My Home's current iteration, according to the Lawyer's Committee, is Empire Home Savings. Although American homeowners are eligible for free mortgage advice from government-certified counselors, many have become a part of, what Bassett calls, “a wave of people preyed upon by an industry adept at snaring desperate homeowners with false promises of mortgage relief.” As she reports: “At least 30 states have passed laws to crack down on loan modification scams, and in January, following a 2009 directive from Congress, the Federal Trade Commission issued a new rule forbidding "Mortgage Assistance Relief Services" from engaging in certain practices. The MARS rule is modeled on existing state bans: It prohibits companies from making lofty modification promises or charging upfront fees before a homeowner has signed a written agreement -- and it also forbids them to tell homeowners not to talk to their lenders, a tactic experts say scammers use to isolate homeowners from lenders who might otherwise warn them that there's a problem.” Fortunately, escaping the clutches of scammers and their “lofty modification promises” is precisely the scenario for which bankruptcy was created. If you’re having trouble making your mortgage, living in a home that is hopelessly underwater, and/or residing in an area that is currently devalued and an eyesore for the foreseeable future, bankruptcy can help get you back on the right side of the proverbial tracks: allowing you to surrender your underwater home or stave off your mortgage servicer, negate your personal and financial liability, and move forward financially. If you find a mortgage modification is not available or enough to help you hold on to your home, it’s important to understand that knowing a qualified bankruptcy attorney can be yet another way you can face your financial fears, yielding the right kinds of support, information and insights—at a low cost— for a secure future beyond the burdens of the mortgage crisis. The bankruptcy attorneys at the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt offer a totally FREE debt consultation and now, more than ever, it’s time to take them up on their offer. Just call toll free to 1-888-234-4181, or during the off hours, you can make your own appointment right online at www.billsbills.com. Simply click on the yellow “FREE Consultation Now” button.    

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