New York Atty. Gen. Eric Schneiderman issued an alert to his state’s citizens warning them of scammers trying to take advantage of the February (2012) foreclosure settlement reached between the states and five of the nation’s largest banks. The settlement provides millions of dollars in relief funds the states will be using to help distressed homeowners. However, according to Schneiderman the opportunity has led some individuals in New York State to attempt to steal from homeowners trying to save their homes.
As the North Country Gazette reported on April 3 2012, “homeowners and those who have lost their homes to foreclosure should always be wary of unsolicited calls, especially if they ask for any personal information. Offers to speed settlement assistance for a fee are fraudulent. Neither the banks, nor HUD-approved housing counseling agencies will charge a fee for settlement assistance.”
The warning was prompted specifically by complaints filed with the Attorney General’s office in which victims claim they were contacted over the phone. The scam artists allegedly identified themselves as government officers willing to help speed up the relief process in exchange for a fee paid by the homeowner. They then asked for personal information they said was needed to process the transaction.
Schneiderman reminds New York residents that officers of legitimate banks and government agencies involved in relief efforts will never charge a fee for their services. Anyone who purports to be involved in the mortgage relief program and asks for personal information over the phone, or suggests the payment of fees, should be reported to the AG’s office or the police as soon as possible. Consumers should never give personal information to anyone over the phone, for any reason.
A Sad State of Affairs
Unfortunately, the New York AG warning is becoming all too common in this country. It seems that the more we find ourselves facing financial crises like the current foreclosure mess, the more we see scam artists thinking nothing of their victims as long as they’re able to get what they want through identity theft. The lack of moral or ethical character among such people is just tasteful if not frighteningly alarming. What happened to the old “code” of not kicking a person when he’s down?
In case you’ve forgotten, the same types of scams were prevalent after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Victims of that disaster who had lost everything found themselves in a hotel far away from home only to receive phone calls from people pretending to offer financial assistance. Far away from the disaster zone there were individuals going door-to-door allegedly collecting relief funds only to be arrested for fraud when they were found out. It is truly a sad state of affairs when these types of things happen.
If you’re a distressed homeowner looking for relief you certainly have enough problems to worry about. Do yourself a favor and don’t trust anyone offering relief who doesn’t have proper identification and credentials. And by all means, never agree to pay a fee to expedite relief services. Even if a company is legitimate, the service they are providing is something you can do for yourself if you’re willing to put in the effort. Be wise and don’t be a victim of this latest despicable scam.