Becoming a homeowner is probably one of the most fulfilling experiences anyone can have. At last, you now own a piece of the American dream. However, you’ll realize, unfortunate events could happen along the way as you work to pay off your mortgage. If such unfortunate events start to affect your ability to settle your monthly mortgage payments it’s normal to seek help, especially if you think that you might head to foreclosure. During this difficult time, you might be vulnerable to scams that could drain your funds.
If you’re trying to get help as a troubled homeowner, steer clear of any of these scam warning signs that some companies or other entities could put you in deep trouble: A person or organization that –
- Asks you upfront payment first before giving you help;
- Guarantees to change your mortgage terms;
- Guarantees that you won’t lose your home;
- Falsely claims to have an affiliation with the federal government;
- Forces you to sign documents that you don’t understand;
- Instructs you to send money to entities other than your mortgage company or servicer that you’re unfamiliar with;
- Offers to conduct a “forensic audit;” or,
- Advises you to stop paying your mortgage.
These are the tactics that scammers employ to take further money from you, and it will only worsen your problem.
Get help straight from your mortgage servicer and a Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counselor
Job loss, serious illness, a natural calamity, or a loss of a family member are just a few unfortunate events that could derail your ability to pay off your monthly mortgage. If you’re starting to miss your mortgage payments, it’s important that you act sensibly and get help directly from your mortgage servicer and a HUD-approved housing counselor.
Immediately get in touch with your mortgage servicer and explain why you’re starting to miss your monthly payments. During this time, you may need to give important financial details like income, bank statements, and your expenses. If you’re part of the military and you’ve received a PCS or permanent change of station orders, you need to explain it as well because you might qualify for the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, a program of the Department of Veterans Affairs for financially distressed active-duty servicemembers. You also need to tell your mortgage servicer how long you’re expecting to start paying back your dues. Your mortgage servicer will offer you options to possibly help you avoid foreclosure.
Then, you need to work with a HUD-approved housing counselor to find out if there are programs or workable solutions that suit your situation. A certified housing counselor can help you understand some of the viable options to possibly prevent a home loss or help you address your financial problems for you to be able to pay back your monthly mortgage again. Refinancing your mortgage, getting a loan modification, working out a repayment plan, getting a forbearance, short-selling your home, and giving your home back to your lender via a “deed-in-lieu-foreclosure” are the common options that could be available to you, depending on your situation.
In some scenarios, troubled homeowners may want to consult with a foreclosure attorney especially if the mortgage servicer is taking legal action against them.
Financially troubled homeowners need to be aware of scams that could worsen their problems. If you start missing making your mortgage payments, you need to immediately notify and get help from your mortgage servicer and a certified housing counselor to better understand your options to save your home.