It's "International Fraud Awareness Week," an opportunity to review the best ways to avoid some of the most common mortgage and real estate scams being tracked by Freddie Mac's Financial Fraud Investigation Unit (FFIU).
Investigators continue to warn borrowers about companies that may promise to fix mortgage problems for large upfront fees. Financially troubled borrowers can typically get the same help from a HUD-approved counselor, or their servicer (the lender that collects the mortgage payment) for much less (or sometimes for free).
A borrower should never sign a 'quick claim deed' or give the title of their home to anyone promising to rent it back until he or she can afford to own it again. Once the fraudster has title, they can evict the borrower and sell the house.
Renters should beware of phony rental ads on the Internet fraudsters use to pick-up personal credit information and personal checks for rent and security deposits. Many of the homes fraudsters use in the ads are pictures of foreclosures being advertised for sale by someone else. To protect yourself don't share personal credit information on the Internet, verify that the house is really for rent, and verify the property's true owner by calling the local county recorder's office.
Here's what to remember: Borrowers in financial trouble should always contact their servicer or a HUD approved counselor and be suspicious of too-good to be true offers from so-called mortgage experts. For more information, or to report a mortgage fraud, see Avoiding Fraud or call our Fraud Hotline at 1-800-4FRAUD8 (1-800-437-2838).
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