The next phone call you get might be from a crook eager to “help” you get your share of the recent $25 billion foreclosure abuse settlement attorneys general in 49 states negotiated with the big banks.
Reality check: This is a national settlement run by state employees. So the chance that a settlement official is calling you the week after the deal was struck because they’re ready to send you your share of $25 billion is about as likely as the possibility you just won the Nigerian lottery.
The attorneys general of several states warn that fraudsters claiming to be bank employees or settlement officials are calling consumers asking for bank account information, credit card numbers, or other personal information. If you give it to them, they’ll use it to steal your identity or run up fraudulent credit card charges as soon as you hang up the phone.
Don’t fall for that trick or for Internet sites promising to get you your share of the settlement — for a fee. Legit organizations never collect a fee for settlements like this or for helping you avoid foreclosure.
The AGs are saying the settlement will take three years to complete. Just hiring the administrator will take three months. That gives you plenty of time to:
1. See who’s eligible for the settlement.
2. Call or go online to your attorney general’s website to see what your state is doing. (I have a hunch most AGs will put information about a multimillion-dollar payment to their constituents on the front page of their websites.)
3. Check with your lender directly:
- Ally/GMAC: 800-766-4622
- Bank of America: 877-488-7814
- Citi: 866-272-4749
- JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901
- Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212
If you had a loan from one of those five banks, you may hear from your lender at some point during the next three years. The money from the settlement is earmarked for about 1 million households at risk of foreclosure and about 750,000 others who lost their homes to foreclosures.
When the lender calls or writes, you’re not going to have to give them any information about yourself or your loan. Anyone who’s really working on the settlement already has information about you, your home, and your loan. If they don’t, ask for a number where you can call them back and then call your AG or your bank to report them. They’re likely just crooks following the money.
Has a scammer ever tried to get you to give up your credit card number over the phone?