Yet Another Scam Preys On Those Looking to Avoid Foreclosure

Submitted by Jen Jones on Sun, 08/16/2009 - 8:41pm

Yet Another Scam Preys On Those Looking to Avoid Foreclosure

Fear of foreclosure is certainly pushing many families into bankruptcy. Although there are now many programs, both at the state and federal level, to help homeowners avoid foreclosure, if your lender is unwilling to work with you, bankruptcy may be the only way you can stay in your home.

Unfortunately, if you don't choose to seek help through a bankruptcy attorney or your lender, there are plenty of criminal actors out there that would be more than happy to assist in escaping your financial woes.

With the rise in bankruptcies and foreclosures across America, thieves are growing more bold in their effort to take whatever belongings, and dignity, from those facing the most challenging of economic circumstances. Perhaps the most rampant perpetrators are fraudulent mortgage modification companies, who take thousands upfront from unsuspecting homeowners, only to disappear into thin air. Don't ever agree to an upfront fee for a mortgage modification, and don't ever agree to make your mortgage payments to a third party who promises to forward your payments directly to your lender. If you are working with a legitimate mortgage modification company, stay involved in the process. It's important to maintain constant contact with your mortgage lender and your loan modification company.

Bogus loan mod companies aren't the only criminals taking advantage of desperate homeowners. Grifters are moving into what appears to be a more legitimate method of theft: buying houses.

Targeting those in high-foreclosure zip codes, representatives from shell companies are offering to buy houses from those in dire straights. They sell the fear of foreclosure and bankruptcy and offer to make them a clean, easy deal and a quick sale. Heck, they even hand people money for the house. Real money! So it can't be a scam, right?

First off, they only give you a very small amount of money, regardless of the equity in the home or its market value. Since you're desperate, it's a fair number, right? The plan calls for the company to buy the home and rent it, allowing you to move on with your life. However, the rent payments they collect never make it to the mortgage company. In fact, the sale never gets recorded, there's no legal closing and you are still responsible for the mortgage. By the time it's all sorted out, they've collected months of rent, from most likely planted tenants, and moved on. The hand-written signs on freeway exits and the local Craigslist's posts that offer to buy and close fast are nine times out of ten the mark of illegal activity.

State regulators believe that there are close to 50 "fast home buy" operations currently working in North Carolina, some of which are perfectly legal with solid reputations. But those companies are easy to recognize. They have sound records with the Better Business Bureau, prominent advertising and established offices. Keep in mind though, in the majority of cases, a fast sale is a bad idea and a short sale even worse. A short sale requires your lender to accept less than the outstanding loan amount. Many times the lender won't really forgive the deficiency, requiring you to sign a promissory note covering the difference. The tax implications of a short sale can be substantial as well. Any time a creditor agrees to accept less than what is owed, they will report the deficiency as taxable income to the IRS. Not only did you lose your home, but now you owe taxes.

Don't fall prey to a foreclosure rescue scam just because you were afraid to consider bankruptcy. If you're facing a foreclosure and your lender is not working with you, a bankruptcy attorney is your best ally. Bankruptcy can keep your family in your home, and if you truly can't afford the home, surrendering it in a bankruptcy shields you from any remaining personal liability on the loan. Don't wait another day to call. In North Carolina, contact the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt for a free consultation. +1-919-646-2654.

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