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Florida residents: watch out for mortgage modification scams

In recent years, many homeowners in Orlando have looked to mortgage modifications as a way to prevent foreclosure and maintain ownership of their homes. Banks as well as the state and federal government have programs that may help some homeowners obtain principal reductions, decreased interest rates and revised payment schedules in order to make homeownership affordable.  When Florida residents consider mortgage modifications, however, they must do due diligence.

There are companies that offer mortgage assistance that will lead homeowners into even deeper debt; and there are other completely fraudulent mortgage modification scams. It can be very difficult for homeowners to tell which modification programs are legitimate and reasonable.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reported this week that scammers have sent very authentic looking mortgage modification applications to homeowners in Southwest Florida. The offers are made to look like they are from Wells Fargo, and they are very convincing. Individual applications might include a homeowner's name and real mortgage account number, balance, amount owed and amount past due. They might even contain accurate information about the homeowner's income. The documents even have an authentic looking faux seal of the U.S. treasury.

Many homeowners have responded to fraudulent applications like these, sending in thousands of dollars in "fees," and providing personal information, only to learn it is a scam. 

Florida residents should not respond to unsolicited mortgage modification offers that arrive in the mail, or to those that arrive by phone or email. Individuals who are having trouble making their mortgage payments need to be sure to work with their lenders directly when seeking a mortgage modification; it may also be wise to talk to a mortgage modifications and debt relief attorney about one's rights.

Source: Herald-Tribune, "Mortgage modification scam shows growing sophistication," Josh Salman, Feb. 13, 2014

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