Every day there seems to be another headline about foreclosures.
Foreclosures rising, foreclosures as a good investment-even foreclosure bus tours. But sometimes homeowners need a little advice from a trustworthy source.
From the Federal Reserve Board, here are five tips for avoiding foreclosure scams:
1. Work only with a nonprofit, HUD-approved counselor.
If you are looking for help to prevent foreclosure, be sure the counseling agency is on the Department of Housing and Urban Development's list of approved agencies. Visit HUD's website for a list of HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.
2. Don't pay an arm and a leg.
You should not have to pay hundreds-or thousands-of dollars. Most HUD-approved housing counselors provide no-cost counseling services and many more provide low-cost counseling. Do not agree to work with a counselor who collects a fee before providing you with any services or who accepts payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer.
3. Be wary of "guarantees."
A reputable counselor will not guarantee to stop the foreclosure process, no matter what your circumstances. Working with a legitimate counselor can certainly increase your chances of keeping your home-but be wary of people who promise a sure thing. Again, get the details of your transaction, along with any promises, in writing first.
4. Know what you are signing -- and be sure you sign it properly
Don't let a counselor pressure you to sign paperwork you haven't had a chance to read through carefully or that you don't understand. Don't sign any blank forms or let "the counselor" fill out forms for you. Be sure to talk with an attorney before signing anything that transfers the title of your home to another party.
5. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If you feel you may be the target or victim of foreclosure fraud, trust your instincts and seek help.