Facing foreclosure? Watch out for scamsApr 26, 2021 03:26PM ● By Marisa Felix-Campbell, Housing Resources of Western Colorado
Mortgage and rental scams are on the rise due to COVID
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered an almost unprecedented housing affordability crisis. Today, 1 in 5 renters and 1 in 10 homeowners with a mortgage are behind on payments.
An extension of the foreclosure and eviction moratoriums in connection with the presidentially declared COVID-19 national emergency was extended to June 30, 2021 for single-family homes through HUD and FHA mortgages. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued a temporary halt in residential evictions to prevent further spread of COVID-19. This hold on rental evictions is effective through June 30, 2021 as well.
Mortgage and rental assistance scams are prevalent due to COVID-19. Scam artists are openly taking advantage of seniors in difficult circumstances: online, on the phone, and even in person. Homeowners and renters who are approached by someone who offers to help them for a fee should be cautious.
Seniors facing foreclosure might be tempted to retain the services of a loan modification company to help them obtain more favorable terms on their loan. Before doing so, the Office of the Attorney General encourages consumers to bear in mind several facts about Colorado law and the fact that they may be able to accomplish a modification without hiring anyone.
When dealing with a loan modification company, remember:
• It is illegal in Colorado for a loan modification or renegotiation company to charge you an upfront fee if you are more than 30 days behind on your mortgage. Ongoing or monthly service charges also are forbidden under Colorado law; these companies can only charge you once their services are completed.
• Never stop making your monthly payments. Consumers who do so could find themselves in foreclosure.
• Do not ignore communications from your lender. Most lenders have loan modification programs that can help you save your home. In some cases, all a borrower needs to do is call the lender and provide some current financial information. Or contact a HUD Certified Housing Counselor.
• Beware of any advice from a loan modification company urging you not to contact your lender.
• If any company promises they will get rid of your debt, they are making a promise they cannot keep.
To file a complaint against a Loan Modification Company with the Colorado Attorney General, visit www.coag.gov or call 720-508-6000.
Housing Resources of Western Colorado (HRWC) is the HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agency for Mesa, Montrose and Delta counties and 13 other counties across Western Colorado. HRWC’s certified HUD housing counselors are a trusted source to assist with foreclosure and eviction prevention, connecting with federal and local relief programs, and determining a solution that is best for the client.
Schedule a virtual one-on-one appointment today with a HUD housing counselor by calling 241-2871 or visit www.hrwco.org. Services are free and confidential to residents of Colorado of any income level.
For legal assistance and guidance, contact Colorado Legal Services (CLS) at 243-7940. CLS, a non-profit, has helped low-income individuals including seniors in Colorado for over 90 years.
HRWC is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization with a mission to provide housing and housing services that create stable, sustainable Western Colorado homes. Learn more at www.hrwco.org or call 241-2871.
We asked readers: "What’s the wildest scam you’ve encountered?"
I met a man on OurTime.com. We emailed back and forth, and after about a week, we exchanged cell numbers. We talked, but he could never meet for coffee or anything like that. He was always too busy with his computer company. Then he told me he was going to Utah to pick up his son then flying out on business abroad. He called me and said, “Did you read my email? I am in Nigeria and l can’t get my computer unless l pay them $15,000. l will take anything you can send.” l told him not to contact me again. I also reported him on the dating site. I will say this: if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. - Barbara
Fake IRS website
Just recently, I got done in from what I thought was the IRS website. I was looking for the instruction booklet for 1040/1040-SR so I went online to what I thought was the IRS site (it had security icons in the http line) and tried to get to the PDF but the key pages were missing. Feeling frustrated, I clicked the “free filing” link. I input my data only to be stopped by the site asking for money before I could even see the final version of the form or print it. I backed out and tried to get to the real IRS site. I was directed to a site (calling itself www.tigta.gov) that wanted my credit card numbers and a lot more sensitive info. It looked shady so I didn’t fill out anything, backed out of the site, and gave up for the day. Then, later in the evening, my computer wouldn’t shut down. I pulled the electric plug. This morning, I tried to contact IRS but it wouldn’t recognize my SS# in the ID input. I am devastated that just trying to get the 1040 SR booklet could be a trap. So now I am a part of the “call for aid daily” segment of the population. I hope you get through to someone real, and I hope they are who they say they are. - TAJ
Got a wild scam story?
Email them to [email protected]
Read more reader-submitted scam stories in next month's issue.