Well, that didn’t take long. Days after Hurricane Sandy , scammers were pummeling affected homeowners with offers to help with their mortgage payments. One email forwarded to Fannie Mae this week used our company name and the Making Home Affordable program logo and told the homeowner she was pre-qualified for assistance…and had been assigned to a housing counselor. All she had to do was call.
Too Good to be True?
Yes. The recipient called and spoke with “an underwriter” who promised to work with her mortgage company to permanently lower her mortgage payments. All the homeowner needed to do was send three reduced mortgage payments.
Luckily, instead the homeowner reached out to a Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center. Not only did she save herself from being scammed, but she found out assistance is available and FREE from Fannie Mae.
Here are some ways you can protect yourself:
- Search for the name of the company in the email address or on the letterhead and use Google or another search tool/resource to confirm the company’s legitimacy.
- Note inconsistencies like grammar mistakes, typos, names of organizations that are slightly off. For example, Making Home Affordable (singular) is the name of the government-sponsored program that helps homeowners, Making Homes Affordable (plural) is not.
- Never feel pressured to “take immediate action.” Do your research and check the facts before signing any agreement or sending any money.
- Never give out your bank account/routing information until you have verified and confirmed the source. And remember, mortgage help is FREE. So always be leery of someone demanding payment or promising guaranteed results.
The best way to avoid scammers is to never pay for help and to work with people you know. Here’s a list of where to turn for help.
- Your current mortgage company (the company listed on your monthly mortgage statement). The company currently servicing your loan is always the best place to start.
- The investor of your mortgage. Many mortgages may be backed by another company/investor, such as Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Use the loan lookup tool  on this website to see if Fannie Mae owns your loan, which makes you eligible to get assistance from a Fannie Mae Mortgage Help Center . Use this link  to see if Freddie Mac owns your loan.
- Your local bank (or credit union). These organizations will be backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and are listed in FDIC’s directory .
- A HUD-certified counselor. Contact the Homeowner's HOPE™ Hotline at 888-995-HOPE or find a HUD-certified housing counselor using HUD’s website . HUD-certified counselors are not permitted to charge consumers for foreclosure prevention counseling services. However, they can charge “reasonable and customary” fees for other forms of housing counseling and education services.
Editor’s Note: If you think you’ve been scammed, report it! Help ensure other homeowners do not fall victim, call 1-888-995-4673 or submit an online complaint .