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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 05, 2008
RADIO SOUND: FORECLOSURE FRAUD LETTERS AND CREDIT FREEZES

Dirty deeds: Attorney General’s Office raises the red flag on foreclosure fraud 

REPORTER:

RISING MORTGAGE PAYMENTS HAVE PAVED THE WAY FOR SCAMMERS WHO LOOK THROUGH FORECLOSURE LISTINGS FOR NEW VICTIMS. GRASPING AT ANY OFFER FOR HELP, THEIR VICTIMS HAVE PAID FOR FALSE PROMISES, BEEN CHEATED OUT OF EQUITY AND, IN SEVERE CASES, WERE TRICKED INTO TRANSFERRING OWNERSHIP OF THEIR HOMES. NOW, IN AN EFFORT TO SHELTER CONSUMERS FROM EQUITY SKIMMERS, THE WASHINGTON ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE IS USING THOSE SAME LISTINGS TO ALERT CONSUMERS.

MCKENNA:
[Notifying distressed owners, :20]

“Our strategy of notifying people who are going into foreclosure is a new twist on the idea of search and rescue.  So-called foreclosure rescuers comb through public listings of foreclosures for targets. We have those same lists and we’re sounding the alarm on their underhanded tactics by sending letters directly to those people who are going into foreclosure.”

REPORTER:

MCKENNA’S OFFICE IS SENDING OUT MORE THAN 14,000 LETTERS TO HOMEOWNERS WHO MIGHT BE TARGETED BY SO CALLED “MORTGAGE RESCUE” SCAMMERS.

MCKENNA:
[If your property is at risk, :24]

“If your property is in foreclosure or is about to go into foreclosure for example because you haven’t been able to pay your property taxes you might be contacted by so-called foreclosure rescue experts.  We want you to hear from us first so you understand that not everybody out there is operating above board and in fact you do have rights and resources to avoid being scammed by someone who claims they’ll keep you out of foreclosure.”

REPORTER:
THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE HAS PLACED AN ADDITIONAL WARNING ABOUT FORECLOSURE RESCUE SCAMS ALONG WITH RESOURCES ON ITS WEB SITE AT WWW.ATG.WA.GOV/FORECLOSURE.ASPX. THE LETTERS AND THE WEB SITE ENCOURAGE PROPERTY OWNERS TO SEEK THE ADVICE OF A HOUSING COUNSELOR BEFORE SIGNING ANY CONTRACT OR SALE AGREEMENT.

FREE FORECLOSURE AND HOMEOWNERSHIP COUNSELING IS AVAILABLE AT WWW.HOMEOWNERSHIP.WA.GOV OR BY CONTACTING THE WASHINGTON STATE HOMEOWNERSHIP INFORMATION HOTLINE AT 1-877-894-HOME (1-877-894-4663).

Freeze Flash! Washington’s credit freeze law better for consumers, seniors and businesses

REPORTER:

CREDIT FREEZES ARE HOT WITH CONSUMER ADVOCATES CONCERNED ABOUT IDENTITY THEFT AND PRIVACY PROTECTIONS. FREEZING YOUR CREDIT PREVENTS IDENTITY THIEVES FROM OPENING UP FRAUDULENT ACCOUNTS IN YOUR NAME. AND STARTING NOW, WASHINGTON RESIDENTS HAVE EVEN MORE CONTROL OVER THEIR CREDIT FILES THANKS TO CHANGES THAT ALLOW FROZEN CREDIT TO BE QUICKLY THAWED.

MCKENNA:
[Credit Freeze, :12]

“You know nothing puts the chill on identity theft like a credit freeze.  The new fifteen minute thaw on the credit freeze law is as convenient as the defrost feature on your microwave.  Your credit files are ready when you need them to be.”

REPORTER:
AS OF SEPT.1, 2008, WASHINGTON CONSUMERS WHO HAVE FROZEN THEIR CREDIT BUT WANT TO OPEN NEW CREDIT, APPLY FOR A MORTGAGE OR TAKE OUT AN INSURANCE POLICY HAVE AN EASY WAY TO PROVIDE TEMPORARY ACCESS TO THEIR FROZEN CREDIT REPORTS. A LAW REQUESTED BY ATTORNEY GENERAL MCKENNA AND UNANIMOUSLY APPROVED LAST YEAR BY THE LEGISLATURE PROVIDES CONSUMERS WITH THE ABILITY TO INSTANTLY “THAW” THEIR CREDIT FILES, INSTEAD OF WAITING UP TO THREE DAYS.

MCKENNA:
[Freeze and defrost explanation, :28]

“Under the State’s old law, you couldn’t freeze access to your credit even after your personal information had been stolen until you could prove the stolen information was used to steal your identity.  Under the new laws we wrote it, you can freeze your credit history whenever you think you need to, it’s up to you.  Under the old law you couldn’t access your own credit history once you’ve put a freeze in place, but under the new laws, we’ve rewritten it, you can now access your own credit history for your own business purposes using the fifteen minute thaw feature.”

REPORTER:

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT OBTAINING A CREDIT FREEZE IS AVAILABLE ON THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S WEB SITE AT WWW.ATG.WA.GOV/FREEZE.ASPX.

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Contacts:
Dan Sytman, AGO Media Relations Manager, (360) 586-7842

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