Housing scammers can be rampant this time of year

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Scams. They seem to sprout like weeds in spring and in times of disaster.

In last week’s column, we talked a bit about scams in general and how to avoid them. Having looked at this today, we want to talk about housing scams in particular.

Avoid scams

As we mentioned last week, the Federal Trade Commission has some succinct information on how to avoid scams. Additionally, the commission lists some of the current scams to watch out for on its website at www.consumer.ftc.gov.

In their brochure, “How to Avoid a Scam,” available online, they list four signs that something is a scam:

– The crooks pose as an organization you know.

– Scammers say there is a problem or a price.

– The crooks urge you to act immediately.

– Scammers tell you to pay in a specific way.

Housing scams

So many interesting economic dynamics have changed over the past two years, including major changes in the housing market.

Unfortunately, this is often the perfect time for crooks to concoct a new deception or resurrect an old one in order to cheat someone with their money and make money quickly and illegally!

“There will always be someone stepping in and making money at times like these,” said our longtime housing advisor Julie Galligan.

Before we go any further, we want to encourage you to call Julie at 360-533-7828 with any questions you may have regarding housing issues related to fraud and scams, landlord and tenant rights, improving your credit score for buying a home, helping you learn how to avoid foreclosure. Its consulting services are always free.

We are with Grays Harbor NeighbourWorks, a non-profit organization that works to provide safe and affordable housing opportunities to residents of our county.

Mortgage moratorium will soon be lifted

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people lost their jobs or lost their job security, the federal government declared a moratorium on mortgage default foreclosures. The intention was to give people time to pay off their mortgage once things returned to normal and not to contribute to a homelessness problem during a pandemic.

June 30 is now the date on which the moratorium will be lifted. This means that people who are behind on mortgage payments will have to work with their lender to find a payment plan so they don’t go into foreclosure and potentially lose their home.

If you’ve fallen behind on your mortgage payment because of a job loss during COVID – or for whatever reason, really – it’s essential to make arrangements with your lender. If you need help with this, you can give us a call.

We realize that mortgages and foreclosures and all the paperwork isn’t something most people deal with a lot, but we do and we know how to make it easy for you.

Foreclosure crooks

If history is any indication, and it is, Julie expects various foreclosure scams to appear soon!

Of course, these crooks don’t wear badges, indicating who they really are instead, they come across as friendly “helpers”.

To attract potential victims, they use various types of advertising and will even search for foreclosure notices and then call the intended victim to “help”.

They usually promise to help you keep or sell your home for a fee.

There is legitimate government approved mortgage and foreclosure help out there, just make sure it’s who you’re dealing with. (Again, call us before giving anyone any personal information or money!)

The website, usa.gov/housing-scams, has some really good information on the tricks used by scammers:

– Offer to go through with your lender or negotiate with your lender to refinance your loan.

– Informing you that they can end the foreclosure by “helping” you file for bankruptcy.

– Encouraging you to sign false salvage or foreclosure mortgage documents

– Claiming that they can do a mortgage forensic check to help you keep your home.

– Offer you fake legal aid.

More:

– Do not send mortgage payments to a company that is not your loan manager.

– Do not sign any document without having them examined by a lawyer or an independent expert.

– Don’t stop making mortgage payments.

– Don’t forget that real government assistance is always free!

– Do not share your personal information, your social security number or your banking information with anyone. Only share this information if you have confirmed that the business is legitimate!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks in Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is executive director. It is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County. For questions about the ductless heat pump program or home repair, housing advice for tenants and homeowners, education and home buying, call 360-533-7828, listen to the expansion choices that will best help you and leave a name and callback number. Due to Covid-19, our office is currently not open for a visit, but we will call you back.



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