We have all seen them. Many of the advertisements are made in Microsoft word, printed on a $99 color printer, and tacked onto telephone poles throughout struggling neighborhoods. Many of us know them as the scams – at least ‘too-good-to-be-true’ – deals that they are. But our confidence is likely bolstered by our relatively stable economic status. But for tens of thousands of Americans whose economic status has been undermined by corporate malfeasance and the bailouts requested by many of those same corporations, the temptation might be too great if it means cash to pay a medical bill that had been covered by the work-place insurance lost with the job a few months back. And even if the victim is savvy enough to steer clear of papers stapled to poles, home-loan and buy-for-cash scammers have tapped into a myriad of legitimate media to cull for the desperate.
In their ongoing effort to educate homeowners, “” (the umbrella organization of Neighborworks offices in all fifty states) is focusing on this particular black market, and we want to help spread the word.
The organization’s annual “NeighborWorks Week” isthis year. The week has been an important part of the NeighborWorks calendar since 1984.
During NeighborWorks Week, local NeighborWorks organizations mobilize tens of thousands of volunteers, businesspeople, neighbors, friends, and local and national elected and civic leaders in a week of neighborhood change and awareness. They rehab and repair homes, paint and landscape properties, conduct neighborhood tours, recognize successful partnerships, and host events that educate, train and inform. In addition, NeighborWorks organizations are eligible for grants and technical assistance to support their NeighborWorks Week activities.
This year’s theme concerns the discovery, avoidance, and reporting of home-buying scams, and NeighborWorks America claims well over 7,000 scalps since last fall when it prioritized the effort.
The, though a few characteristics are surprisingly consistent: For one thing, the love of little bits of standard paper to advertise. Also, many scammers offer either to collect your mortgage for you while they ‘renegotiate’ or to begin the paperwork with a ‘nominal fee’ (usually a couple of hundred dollars). Legitimate services, on the other hand, invariably want to meet with you, not your money, until all the ducks are lined up (Read: ‘All the debt-reduction processes have been completed.’) The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Latino- and African-Americans are the most common victims, and – obviously – the recently impoverished of the middle class desperate to hold on to the home they thought they could afford just three or four years ago.
Before your summer vacation gets going, tap into your state’s NeighborWorks network to get informed, or at least to pass on the information to someone who might need it. Though the rate of foreclosure is so high it has, it has not lost the social stigma of embarrassment and a sense of low worth. So spread the word about the scams and about the NeighborWorks Week this June. Given that high rate of foreclosure, chances are good we all know someone close to the edge.