VENTURA, Calif. - The Ventura County District Attorney's Office is warning homeowners about mortgage, forbearance, and loan modification scams.
The current economic conditions resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic are perfect for predators. The District Attorney's Office reported that last month alone, mortgage forbearance requests increased by approximately 2,000 percent.
These financial predators are seeking to exploit desperate homeowners with false promises of assistance to delay their overdue mortgage payments.
The DA recommends the following to avoid becoming a victim:
· Never pay any person or business for mortgage or forbearance assistance, including the negotiation of a new, lower mortgage payment. It is unlawful for any entity to charge an advance fee to negotiate on a borrower’s behalf with a lender. Borrowers should contact their lender directly to discuss forbearance options, and never go through a third party.
· Never sign a deed that transfers any portion of home ownership to another person or entity as part of a mortgage assistance or forbearance scheme.
· Never make any portion of a mortgage payment to anyone other than your lender. Such payments are never passed on to the lender and this often unnecessarily triggers foreclosure proceedings that otherwise may never have commenced.
· Never stop making mortgage payments to your lender on the advice of a mortgage or forbearance “expert.”
· Be wary of mailed or telephonic advertisements promising mortgage or forbearance assistance. Legitimate assistance will not come to a borrower, it must instead be sought out.
· Homeowners struggling to pay their mortgage payment should contact their lender directly to learn what assistance programs may be available.
Various mortgage relief programs are available for FHA mortgage borrowers affected by the COVID-19 crisis. For more information go to www.hud.gov/answers.
Ventura County residents who need further information about mortgage forbearance scams can contact the District Attorney’s Office Real Estate Fraud Unit directly at (805) 662-1750, or obtain a complaint form at the District Attorney’s website located at www.vcdistrictattorney.com.