Military service members are the latest victims of con artists who pretend to “help” struggling home owners, according to a fraud alert issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
“Mortgage modification fraud schemes targeting struggling home owners and which exploit the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) have become increasingly common, and members of the Armed Services community struggling to make their mortgage payments should beware of con artists and scams that promise to save their homes and lower their mortgage debt or payments,” the alert said.
Advice from U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counselors is always free, as are mortgage modifications under HAMP.
So, if you’re asked to pay a fee for mortgage counseling, that’s a sign you’re being scammed, not helped.
Real help is available from these sources:
VA — Active-duty service members or veterans with VA loans can call the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs at 1-877-827-3702 or visit the Loan Guaranty Service Home Loan Program website [www.HomeLoans.VA.gov] for help.
Making Home Affordable Program — For free mortgage-related advice and assistance from HUD-approved housing counselors or to apply for HAMP, call the Homeowner’s HOPE™ Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (1-888-995-4673) or visit www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov. You can apply to HAMP on your own or with free help from a HUD-approved housing counselor. Applying to HAMP is always free.
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — For additional help and more information about mortgages, call 1-855-411-2372 or visit www.ConsumerFinance.gov/mortgagehelp.
Fannie Mae — If your mortgage is owned by Fannie Mae, dial 1-800-7Fannie or visit www.FannieMae.com/portal/helping-homeowners-communities/veterans-outreach.html.
Freddie Mac — If your mortgage is owned by Freddie Mac, call 1-800-Freddie (option 2) or visit www.FreddieMac.com/avoidforeclosure/military_assistance.html.
U.S. Department of Agriculture — If your mortgage was issued by the USDA, contact the Centralized Servicing Center at 1-800-414-1226 or visit RDHomeLoans.USDA.gov.
Federal Housing Administration — If your mortgage is insured by FHA, for help and more information, contact the National Servicing Center at 1-877-622-8525 or visit www.HUD.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/nsc/nschome.cfm.
If you believe that you or someone you know has been a victim of a mortgage modification scam exploiting HAMP, call the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program Hotline at 1-877-744-2009 or visit www.SIGTARP.gov/pages/hotline.aspx to submit a tip, which can be done anonymously.
To report mortgage modification issues unrelated to HAMP, visit Help.ConsumerFinance.gov/app/mortgage/ask to submit a complaint to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau.