SEATTLE – If history is any guide, scammers will surely try to take advantage of news of the largest consumer protection settlement in U.S. history.
“Whenever there is a large settlement or federal claims program, scam artists come out of the woodwork,” said Senior Assistant Attorney General Doug Walsh, who heads up the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division. “They offer to assist victims for a fee, when the services are actually available for free. Don’t take the bait. Distressed homeowners can get counseling and, where appropriate, legal assistance for no cost.”
Walsh urges consumers to be on the lookout for scammers who say they’ll help – for a fee – speed up loan modifications or principal reductions flowing from the national mortgage settlement. In reality, the banks will, over the next few months, notify eligible borrowers of their right to file a claim.
If you have a loan serviced by one of the five banks involved in the settlement, make sure your lender and/or loan servicer has your current contact information. You may also contact them yourself:
If you are having difficulty paying your mortgage and fear you are at risk of foreclosure, there are a variety of free services available:
- Free counseling and assistance is available to Washington residents. To be connected to a counselor, call the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline at 1-877-894-HOME (4663). They will evaluate your options and explain assistance programs that may be available to you. They may also help refer you to free legal services, if appropriate.
- Request mediation with your lender: State law now requires lenders to notify borrowers prior to foreclosure of the availability of foreclosure counseling and the potential for mediation. Homeowners who wish to participate in mediation must be referred by a housing counselor or an attorney. Information about the program is available at www.homeownership.wa.gov. This handout (PDF) includes additional information.
- Explore other refinancing and modification programs, including modification programs for Fannie and Freddie loans.
Learn more at http://www.atg.wa.gov/NationalMortgageSettlement.aspx
Janelle Guthrie, Director of Communications, (360) 586-0725