Answers about Mortgages

How can I protect myself from Mortgage Modification Scams and Foreclosure Rescue Scams?

You must proceed with caution when dealing with anyone offering to help you modify your mortgage or rescue you from foreclosure. Remember, you can seek assistance from a HUD-approved housing counselor at no cost, and you can work with your lender directly.

The following tips can help you avoid scams involving mortgage modification and foreclosure.

  • Contact your lender or mortgage servicer. Talk with an agent in the loss-mitigation department about mortgage modification options and other alternatives to foreclosure.
  • Ask a legitimate housing or financial counselor for help. HUD-approved housing counselors are available at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or They do not charge a fee for this assistance.
  • Make all mortgage payments directly to your lender or mortgage servicer. Do not trust anyone to make mortgage payments for you. Do not stop making your payments.
  • Know what you are signing. Read and understand every document that you sign. Never rely solely on an oral explanation of a document. Make sure that you read and understand every aspect of a document. Otherwise, the document may obligate you to terms you do not want, and it may convey ownership of your home to someone else. Never sign documents with blank spaces that can be filled in later. Never sign a document that contains errors or false statements, even if someone promises to correct them. If you do not understand a document, seek advice from a lawyer or financial counselor you trust.
  • Do not sign over your deed without consulting a trusted expert. Foreclosure scams often involve the transfer of homeownership to a third party. Never agree to a title transfer before considering advice from your lawyer, financial adviser, credit counselor, or another independent person you can trust. When you sign over your deed, you lose your rights to your home and any equity you have, but you remain obligated to satisfy the terms of the mortgage.
  • Get promises in writing. Do not accept oral promises and agreements involving your home, because they usually are not legally binding. Protect your rights with a written document or a contract signed by the person making the promise. Keep copies of all contracts that you sign. Never sign anything that you don't understand and agree to.
  • Report suspicious activity to relevant federal agencies and to your state and local consumer protection agencies. Reporting con artists and suspicious schemes helps prevent others from becoming victims. If your complaint or question involves a national bank and you cannot resolve it directly with the bank, you may file a complaint with this office. Visit the How to File a Complaint page on this website. You can file a complaint using the Online Customer Complaint Form or you may submit a complaint via fax or mail to the OCC Customer Assistance Group. You can also submit complaints to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at

March 2011