According to a recent report in MarketWatch, scammers are employing new tactics to target vulnerable homeowners looking for a way to save their homes from Chicago mortgage foreclosure. As the article explains, fraudsters have always been around, but in recent years, they have employed strategies specifically designed to take advantage of the housing market’s downturn.
Many of the schemes are crimes of opportunity, and years into the foreclosure crisis, there are many such opportunities because there are still scores of distressed homeowners hoping to find a way to keep their heads above water.
The most troubling tactic is any one of a number of mortgage foreclosure rescue schemes, which target struggling homeowners headed toward foreclosure. Yolanda McGill, senior counsel for the Fair Housing and Fair Lending Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, reports that scammers use various pitches to lure homeowners. Some scammers say they can help prepare documents for homeowners trying to obtain a loan modification. Others claim to be an attorney or say they are working with an attorney. The offers can appear legitimate because the scammers use tactics to gain the trust of homeowners. For example, they often mimic some of the same language used by government programs and lenders. These scammers offer fake services, take the money of unsuspecting homeowners, and then simply disappear.
McGill warns that homeowners should never pay up-front fees for non legal services—that is, money before the services are rendered—because the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule, which became effective last January, prohibits them. There is an exception for attorney fees. Unfortunately, some scammers are aware of this exception and pose as representatives of an attorney’s office in order to dupe homeowners. Another tactic scammers frequently use is convincing homeowners to sign a quit-claim deed. The quit-claim deed transfers ownership of the home to the scammer, who promises the homeowner a situation where he or she will be able to remain in the house. Still other scammers have approached individuals who have already lost their homes. The scammers solicit money from these individuals, claiming that the homeowners can pay money to get their homes back.
Our Chicago mortgage foreclosure defense lawyers know that if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Over the years, we have witnessed the ups and downs of the housing market, as well as learned about a number of fraudulent mortgage foreclosure practices. If you are a struggling homeowner, things likely are not as hopeless as they seem. There are many ways to legitimately refinance your home, obtain a loan modification, or avoid foreclosure. If you are afraid you may lose your home or believe you have been a victim of fraudulent behavior, please contact a qualified professional as soon as possible. For example, Illinois foreclosure law may afford you important protections, but some of those protections may become time-barred if you wait too long to contact an attorney. Our Oak Park mortgage foreclosure attorneys have successfully represented many Chicago homeowners and know how to best defend your rights.
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