Guard Against Loan Scams
ICBA and First Community Bank and Trust Offer Tips to Jelp Consumers
Beecher, Illinois (August 26, 2011) - Even though it has been years since the height of the subprime mortgage crisis, many Americans continue to receive fraudulent offers of foreclosure and refinancing assistance, both in the mail and online. The Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) and First Community Bank and Trust in Beecher and Peotone want consumers to know how to protect themselves from these financially detrimental loan scams.
“There still are many scams aimed at those who are most vulnerable, promising to help them avoid foreclosure or to refinance their mortgage at a lower rate,” said Greg Ohlendorf, president and CEO of First Community Bank and Trust. “Having good information is the best defense against these attacks. We want our customers to know the warning signs that they may be dealing with a scam artist and how to protect themselves so that they don’t wind up in an even worse financial situation.”
First, if you are having financial troubles, you should contact your mortgage lender immediately. By taking the direct approach, you will be less likely to be taken in by those pitches offered by way of unsolicited phone calls, e-mails or letters that appeal to your worst fears. Consumers should be wary of any company that does the following:
- Guarantees to stop the foreclosure process—no matter what your circumstances.
- Instructs you to not contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor.
- Collects a fee before providing you with any services.
- Accepts payment only by cashier’s check or wire transfer.
- Encourages you to lease your home so you can buy it back over time.
- Tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to them, rather than your lender.
- Tells you to transfer your property deed or title to them. \
- Offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is not set by the housing market at the time of sale.
- Offers to fill out paperwork for you.
- Pressures you to sign paperwork you haven’t had a chance to read thoroughly or that you don’t understand.
If you think you have been the victim of a loan scam, you should contact your state attorney general’s office to file a complaint and learn the next steps to repair any damage incurred as a result of the scam. For additional tips, you can also check the following resources:
“We are here to help our customers with legitimate programs and loan options that are tailored to each individual’s situation,” Ohlendorf said. “A cookie-cutter approach is the last thing people need when they’re facing financial difficulties.”
The Independent Community Bankers of America, the nation’s voice for community banks, represents nearly 5,000 community banks of all sizes and charter types throughout the United States and is dedicated exclusively to representing the interests of the community banking industry and the communities and customers we serve. For more information or to learn more about community banking, visit www.icba.org.