NEWS | Dec. 7, 2011

Beware of scams targeting homeowners

By Joint Base Charleston Airmen and Family Readiness Center

Homeowners 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 Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Department of the Treasury have announced the creation of a joint task force to combat scams targeted at homeowners seeking to apply for the Home Affordable Modification Program. These agencies have partnered to protect taxpayers by investigating and shutting down these scams and by providing education programs to vulnerable homeowners. The joint task force has issued a consumer fraud alert to protect homeowners from these scams that will be provided directly to homeowners eligible for HAMP. The consumer fraud alert can be found online at www.SIGTARP.gov/pdf/Consumer_Fraud_Alert.pdf.

"The goal of our consumer fraud alert is to empower homeowners with the knowledge of how to recognize and avoid these scams," said Christy Romero, Deputy Special Inspector General for SIGTARP. "These scams prey upon the most vulnerable homeowners as they desperately hold out hope of saving their homes. SIGTARP will work with the CFPB and Treasury in this joint task force and with other law enforcement partners to shut down these scams and to ensure that the perpetrators pay for their crimes."

"Mortgage scams harm not only homeowners but legitimate businesses and the market as a whole," said Richard Cordray, Chief of Enforcement for the CFPB.
"By joining forces with SIGTARP and Treasury, the CFPB hopes to protect Americans and the integrity of one of the largest consumer financial markets in the U.S." SIGTARP, the CFPB and Treasury investigate mortgage modification schemes, among other things, in which companies charge struggling homeowners a fee in exchange for false promises of lowering the homeowner's mortgage debt or payments through HAMP, a foreclosure prevention program funded by the Troubled Asset Relief Program and administered by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

If you or someone you know is struggling to pay their mortgage and are seeking a mortgage modification, keep in mind that you can apply to the federal Home Affordable Modification Program on your own or with free help from a housing counselor approved by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Applying to the program is always free.
For more information on how to apply, call the Homeowner's HOPEā„¢ Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (1-888-995-4673) or visit www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

If you suspect that you may have been a victim of a mortgage modification scam related to HAMP or to report other suspected illicit activity involving TARP, dial the SIGTARP Hotline: 1-877-SIG-2009 (1-877-744-2009).