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Palo Alto Residents Cautioned On Foreclosure Scams

By Staff | Apr 3, 2008

The Palo Alto County Sheriff’s Office is cautioning area residents to be alert for scams involving mortgage foreclosures. The Iowa Attorney General’s Office is dealing with several cases where unscrupulous scam artists are taking advantage of Iowans caught up in the national foreclosure crisis. Authorities are seeing an upswing in such incidents as scam artists target victims who are down and out and can least afford to be cheated out of their money.

The scam works like this. An individual or family that is experiencing difficulty in making their mortgage payments, who whatever reason, is approached by the con-artist who offers a “mortgage foreclosure rescue”, which is a complete fraud. The scheme asks the victims to pay hundreds of dollars for so-called assistance or “rescue” from foreclosure, but all that happens is the money disappears and little, if anything, is done to help the struggling victim actually avoid foreclosure. All the scam does is puts people in a deeper hole.

A recent case involved a Des Moines family who was at risk for foreclosure, was conned into paying a rescue company $795 to supposedly help avoid foreclosure. The con artists made no arrangements, and actually asked the family for even more money.

The best advice is to avoid foreclosure rescue scams. If you are contacted by a company that claims they can help, either by phone, mail or e-mail, or even a knock at the door, be very suspicious. Never pay an “up-front” fee for a mortgage rescue. Be wary of signing any documents, as some people have actually signed deeds to property to scammers without realizing it. Don’t believe a person who advises you not to talk to your own attorney about the situation or the mortgage company – in fact, that is exactly what you should be doing in such a situation.

If you find yourself in such a situation, you can contact the Iowa Attorney General’s Office if you have been victimized in a rescue scam. Contact the Attorney General’s office at 1-888-777-4590.

The Iowa Mortgage Help Hotline can provide assistance and advice. You can contact the hotline at 1-877-622-4866.

Anyone facing foreclosure should contact their mortgage company, or the servicer who is handling the loan, and work with the company. Don’t delay in making the contact. Don’t feel overwhelmed or ashamed of the situation. The earlier you get assistance and the earlier you make contact with the lender, the more likely you will be to save your home.

For most Iowans, their home is their most important possession. If you are facing difficulty making payments, or the threat of foreclosure, take steps now to save your home and don’t fall for “mortgage rescue” scams that will only make the situation worse.