Urges homeowners to use non-profit, approved housing counselors instead
SEATTLE - Attorney General Rob McKenna today reminded homeowners needing assistance to avoid companies selling “foreclosure rescue,” “securitization audits” and other home loan modification schemes.
“Free or reduced fee housing counselors are available nationwide to assist homeowners in working with their lenders, so there really isn’t any reason for a consumer to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for these services,” said McKenna. “Unfortunately, we continue to hear from homeowners who have lost their money after paying large, up-front fees to companies who ultimately did not deliver on their ‘foreclosure rescue’ promises.”
In recent years, new companies have cropped up across the country aiming to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners and capitalize on all of the conflicting and confusing news and information relating to the mortgage crisis.
A potential new threat to Washington residents came to light last week when a staff member of the Attorney General’s Office received an unsolicited telemarketing “robo-call” on his work line from an out-of-state company offering “securitization audits” and other legal services promising to halt, and even reverse, foreclosures. McKenna cautioned that homeowners should be especially skeptical of solicitations from out-of-state firms, which may not be familiar with Washington law or licensed to provide legal services in this state. Simply put: do not send your money out of state to get help with your mortgage problems.
Homeowners needing assistance should contact the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME (4663). Counselors there can discuss individual situations and circumstances, evaluate options, and explain assistance programs that may be available. Homeowners may also contact a Washington HUD-approved housing counseling agency.
- If you are facing foreclosure or can’t pay your mortgage, contact the Washington State Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME (4663). The hotline can refer you to a free, state-approved housing counselor.
- If you believe unlawful activity has occurred in regard to your mortgage, you should speak with an attorney. A homeowner may file a suit to challenge a foreclosure, but they must do so prior to the foreclosure sale.
- If you are unable to afford a lawyer, contact the Washington State Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-4663 (HOME) for referral to the Washington State Bar Association’s Home Foreclosure Legal Aid Project.
- The Attorney General’s Office cannot stop a foreclosure or provide individuals with legal advice, as the office is barred by law from representing private citizens.
- Homeowners should read the Washington Foreclosure Prevention Resources Guide, provided by the Seattle-King County Asset Building Collaborative Foreclosure Prevention Team and recommended by the Attorney General's Office and the Washington State Department of Financial Institutions.
- Additional resources can be found at www.atg.wa.gov/foreclosure.aspx.
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725