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Why you should be suspicious of government logos

No, really. Just because something has a government logo on it doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate.

Just today, we announced that we’re cracking down on two mortgage loan modification operations that allegedly ripped-off struggling homeowners across the country using websites, emails, and other advertising materials with government logos, letterhead, or other marks to trick consumers into believing that their services were associated with government agencies.

For example, one of the operations claimed that, for a fee, they could help people get benefits from programs offering government-sponsored relief for homeowners, including the recent nationwide mortgage servicing settlement or the federal Independent Foreclosure Review program. In fact, you don’t have to pay anything to get the benefits of these programs, you just have to qualify.

The national mortgage settlement is a $25 billion agreement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers to provide relief to homeowners – including loan modification and refinancing – for homeowners covered under the agreement. The federal Independent Foreclosure Review program provides homeowners the opportunity to request an independent review of their foreclosure process under consent orders between federal regulators and 14 mortgage servicing companies.

If you think you might qualify and want more information, don’t rely on any information you receive just because it has a government logo on it – check out the official government sites about the settlement or the Independent Foreclosure Review program.

How to spot a scam

Mortgage assistance and foreclosure relief scams are designed to take your money. They often use mail or email designed with emblems, logos and names intended to mimic government agencies or programs, lawyers or law firms, or legitimate creditors. Unfortunately, scammers are also constantly re-inventing new ways to scam struggling homeowners. So it’s not always easy to tell the difference between the scams and legitimate services. But there are a number of ways to help spot the fakes. Keep an eye out for red flags if a mortgage assistance or foreclosure relief scheme:

  • Tells you to stop making mortgage loan payments. Not making your mortgage loan payments could hurt your credit score and limit your options.
  • Tells you to start making payments to someone other than your servicer or lender.
  • Ask you to pay high fees upfront to receive services.
  • Promises to get you a loan modification.
  • Asks you to sign over title to your property.
  • Asks you to sign papers you do not understand.
  • Pressure you to sign papers immediately.

Get real help, fast

Don’t be fooled. You can get real help by calling us at (855) 411-CFPB (2372) from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. ET, Monday-Friday to be connected to a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-approved housing counselor today.

A mortgage assistance or foreclosure relief scam could cost you your house. If you think you’ve been scammed, report suspected fraud immediately. The longer you wait, the more difficult it could be to prevent serious problems. There are lots of ways to register a complaint or report suspected scams:

Share this information with others
It can be hard for people to talk about finances, especially if they’re in trouble. Even if you’re not facing foreclosure yourself, please share a link to this advice with your networks using the hashtag #ForeclosureHelpIsFree. You never know who you might be able to help.

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