In my mailbox on Monday was an official-looking mailing that offered to restructure my loan and lower my payments by 50%. Because I simply can't help myself, I called the 1-877-823-8399 number in the mailing and it goes nowhere after hours. A good sign that this is a scam.
The next day, I called back and recorded the call with my web cam and the operator on speakerphone. (Video below). They say that they're a law firm in Tampa, Florida that is overseen by attorney's in New York. They charge $1995 for a loan modification.
What's the scam? Since home values have fallen so fast, criminals are targeting homeowners with attractive offers like these to assist them in modifying their mortgage. They may come off as helpful and trustworthy but they are anything but. Others are loan officers fishing for refinance prospects.
In the state of North Carolina, it is ILLEGAL to pay anyone up-front fees for mortgage modification services. Many other states have followed in our footsteps as mortgage modification scams have been used to transfer properties to a straw buyer, resell a home multiple times, etc.
If you are facing foreclosure, ignore the fake offers (i.e. handwritten notes from "investors" saying they want to buy your house) and contact your lender's loss mitigation department directly. To get an overview of available programs, visit the Making Home Affordable website operated by HUD.
Your final resource is a trusted local Realtor or attorney.
Bottom line: while your lender is not above calling your neighbor to ask you to call them, they will not contact you through a three cent mail piece referencing outdated public data. If you have or are currently involved with one of these scams, contact the North Carolina State Attorney General today at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.