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For immediate release -- Monday, April 6, 2009.
Contact Bob Brammer -- 515-281-6699, or rbrammer@ag.state.ia.us

Beware of “Foreclosure Rescue Scams”

A better bet:  Call the free and safe Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline at 877-622-4866.

            Attorney General Tom Miller warned Iowans that scam-artists are trying to take advantage of Iowans who are caught up in the nationwide foreclosure crisis. 

            “Mortgage foreclosure rescue schemes ask you to pay hundreds of dollars up-front for so-called assistance or rescue from foreclosure,” Miller said, “but they just take your money and do nothing to help. 

            “The scam puts you deeper into a financial hole, does nothing to save your home, and diverts you from getting real help,” he said.

            Miller advised Iowans to call the Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline at 877-622-4866 if they are facing foreclosure or having trouble making mortgage payments.  The Hotline is sponsored by the Attorney General’s Office and the Iowa Finance Authority, and it offers free, confidential help from trained local housing counselors.  The web site is http://www.iowamortagehelp.com/.

            “This free call could save your home,” Miller said.

            Miller issued the warning today as the Federal Trade Commission announced a crackdown on fraud and deception by mortgage modification and home foreclosure rescue companies.  Miller said his office would work with federal and other state authorities to stop the proliferation of “mortgage relief scams,” and that Iowans should call Iowa Mortgage Help as the safe alternative to help them save their home.

Warning signs of “rescue scams”:

 

            “Beware if someone contacts you, claims they can help, and asks you to pay an up-front fee,” Miller said.  “They might contact you by phone, mail, e-mail, or even come to your door, because information about people facing foreclosure is included in public court records,” he said. 

            “Beware if someone claims to have a ‘special relationship’ with your lender or ‘servicer.’  Beware if they tell you not to talk to your lender or servicer directly.  Beware if they ask for up-front payment.  It is illegal in Iowa to charge an up-front fee, and no legitimate company will ask you to pay hundreds of dollars in advance,” Miller said.

            The Attorney General’s Office proposed a law enacted last year that prohibits companies from taking up-front fees for so-called foreclosure-prevention services.   [Go to:  letter the Attorney General’s Office sends to “foreclosure rescue consultant” companies.]

            Miller encouraged Iowans to contact his office if they have been cheated by a “rescue scam.”  The toll-free number is 888-777-4590.  In Des Moines call 515-281-5926.  The office has investigations pending regarding several foreclosure rescue companies.

 

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