Loan Modification Scam Alert – The Equity Skimming Trick
If you are thinking of refinancing or loan modification, and you expect to use your equity to cover loan expenses and to get back on track financially, be on guard. Scammers are lurking in the market place waiting to steal your equity.
These guys are slick. Some even have a team of fast talking partners to back them up.
The following homeowners are at risk:
- Homeowners who have a good bit of equity (dollar amount of ownership) in their homes.
- Homeowners who are considering cashing out some of their equity for home improvements, medical expenses, personal emergency, or getting caught up on financial obligations.
- Homeowners who are out of work and need to dip into their equity for living expenses while looking for new employment.
- Homeowners who are late on their mortgage (or facing foreclosure) and wish to use their equity to save their homes.
One way to guard yourself is to confirm and re-confirm any equity quote with your lender. Do not take the loan officer’s word alone. Loan Modification Scam artists can generate official looking paperwork that appears to disclose the amount of equity you have. But they will tell you that you have less equity than you actually do.
For example, their paperwork may say that you can take out $25,000 in equity and even tell what your new payment will be. But the new payment may actually be for a loan that will pay out much more than $25,000. The homeowner gets the amount shown on the bogus paperwork. The scammer pockets the rest.
Another Safeguard is to check out the appraisal agency assigned to your case and make sure they are legit. Scammers can produce fake appraisals.
Also, stay away from internet based companies and on-line transactions. The internet is a good place to start your search, but you should go with companies that have established offices in your area.
Finally, any honest loan company will offer a list of approved local attorneys that they recommend for closing. You can use one of theirs or get your own. If they use one attorney exclusively, you should check out the firm and assure yourself that their attorney is legitimate.