Housing and credit counseling.
You don’t have to go through the foreclosure prevention process alone. There are programs and people who will help. A mortgage counselor with a housing counseling agency will answer your questions, can assess your situation, prioritize your bills and debts, go over your options, and also help you prepare for those important discussions with your loan servicer. Best of all, housing counseling services are usually free or low cost.
Call the local office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Or contact the housing authority in your city, state, or county for help in finding a legitimate housing counseling agency nearby. Or you can also contact the NeighborWorks Center for Foreclosure Solutions at 888-995-HOPE or www.nw.org. Click here to find a listing of community action agencies, counselors, and non-profits in your county and state.
Be Alert to Scams and Shady so Called Counselors
Scam artists always follow the headlines, whether it is a hurricane or the current mortgage issues or foreclosure crisis, and they claim to provide you needed help, but they don’t. They know there are countless homeowners falling behind on their mortgage loan payments or that are at risk for foreclosure. The pitches from these people may sound like a way for you to get out from under your bills, but their intentions are usually not honorable. They want to take your money. Among the predatory scams that have already been reported are:
- The foreclosure prevention specialist: This “specialist” is actually a phony counselor who will charge you outrageous fees in exchange for making a few quick, simple phone calls or completing some basic paperwork that anyone could easily do for themselves. None of their actions will result in saving the house. They give homeowners a false sense of hope, it delays them from seeking qualified help, and it even exposes a homeowners personal financial information to a fraudster.
- The lease/buy back: Homeowners are tricked or deceived into signing over the deed to their home to a scam artist who will lie to them, and tell them they will be able to stay in the house as a renter and eventually buy it back. Usually, the terms of this fraudulent scheme are so demanding that the lease/buy back becomes impossible, the homeowner gets evicted, and the so called rescuer (scam artist) walks off with most or all of the equity.
- The bait-and-switch: Homeowners think they are signing documents with a counselor to both bring their mortgage current and pay off their debts. Instead, they are actually signing over the deed to their house. Homeowners usually do not know they have been scammed until they get an eviction or foreclosure notice.
Housing, credit, and foreclosure counselors are one of the best options to call for housing assistance. Most are non-profits, and provide services for free. Get a listing of low cost credit counseling agencies. If you qualify based on your income then some of the counseling can even be provided for free.
Before entering into any arrangement with a credit counseling agency, always read the find print. Feel free to contact the better business bureau (BBB) as well. Oftentimes using the services of a HUD certified housing counseling agency may limit your risks.