The NeighborWorks Week (June 5-12) that just finished (and that we promoted a couple of weeks ago) focused on educating homeowners to the danger signs of mortgage-assistance scams and predatory loan practices. According to the NeighborWorks website, “NeighborWorks America and local NeighborWorks organizations held more than 320 community revitalization and 150 loan modification scam awareness events nationwide.” Not surprisingly, one of the bigger shows of force was in New York City, where the issue was put up in lights. Literally.
NeighborWorks and Neighborhood Housing Service of New York City co-sponsored a mortgage-scam alertCNNMoney.com ran a report on the event, which included a brief interview with the recently-appointed CEO of NHSNYC, Bernell Grier: “[For scam artists,] the all time high foreclosure rate is an opportunity in the same way that pushing toxic subprime loans was during the housing boom,” said Bernell Grier, CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of New York (NHS), a NeighborWorks affiliate.” (We will be posting an extended and exclusive interview with Ms. Grier in the near future!).this past 6 June, where materials were distributed to many thousands of New Yorkers (and probably a few tourists as well).
The folks at NeighborWorks America, NHSNYC, and a couple of other organizations also contributed a great set of images of the event at Flickr for the rest of us to soak up some of the atmosphere.
The material distributed at this event and at the other 150 throughout US cities this past week stressed three clear indicators that the offer to refinance a burdensome mortgage is indeed too good to be true:
Asks for a fee in advance. If you pay them these fees, which can range from $1,000 to as much as $5,000, that’s probably the last you’ll ever hear from them. Most never even go through the motions of talking to lenders and trying to work out modifications.
Tells you they can guarantee foreclosure will stop. Nobody can do that, especially before they find out more about your individual circumstances.
Urges you to stop paying your mortgage and pay them instead. They’re trying to add to the money they already bilked you out of by keeping up the pretense of trying for a modification.
High unemployment, fear of unemployment, and underemployment all put undue and unexpected stresses on families needing homes as their anchor. Too many are trying to take advantage of those fears, so kudos to NHSNYC for helping spread the word and protect consumers!