I’ve been solicited by companies offering to help me obtain a loan modification or avoid foreclosure –are they for real?Maybe … and maybe not. Many companies advertising these services are scam artists who stealmoney from distressed homeowners by taking upfront fees and not delivering on their promises. Hereare some suggestions for identifying scams and what to do if you feel that you have been a victim:
You should never pay a fee for assistance with or information about the
Making HomeAffordable Program
Beware of any person or organization that asks you to pay an upfront fee in exchangefor a counseling service, foreclosure prevention, or modification of a delinquent loan.
Beware of anyone who wants you to sign over the deed to your house in order to “saveyour home.”
Beware of anyone who advises you to deliberately miss a mortgage payment.
Never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage holder,unless you have the mortgage holder’s approval.To file acomplaintor to get free information on fraud and other consumer issues, call theHomeowner’s Hope Hotline at
1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or contact the
Federal Trade Commission atwww.ftc.gov/consumerprotectionor 877-FTC-HELP (4357). In addition to contacting the FTC, youmay also wish to file a complaint with the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection by calling 404-651-8600 or toll free at 1-800-869-1123. For more information about foreclosure rescue or loanmodification scams, go towww.LoanScamAlert.org,www.ftc.gov/MoneyMatters, or
http://www.occ.gov/news-issuances/consumer-advisories/2008/consumer-advisory-2008-1.html.8. What can I do if my mortgage holder has made mistakes in my account, or if I need moreinformation about my mortgage account?The federal Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, 12 U.S.C. Section 2605(e), gives you the right to
request information about your mortgage account
. It also gives you the right to
demand thatyour account be corrected
, if you believe the lender or servicer has made a mistake. At the end of this webpage are sample letters that you can use to request information, or to ask that the servicercorrect your account. Be sure to clearly identify the name of the borrower as it appears on theservicer’s records, the account number, and the property address. Federal law requires that thelender or servicer acknowledge your letter within twenty days, and answer it within sixty days.9. How does foreclosure work in Georgia?Georgia is a “non-judicial foreclosure” state. That means the lender can foreclose on your homewithout filing suit or appearing in court before a judge. The procedures for foreclosure are spelled outin the Official Code of Georgia, Sections 44-14-162 through 44-14-162.4.Foreclosure begins with a
under the terms of the original promissory note or deed to securedebt. Usually the default is your failure to make the required payments on the loan. A default canalso occur due to things such as failing to maintain property insurance or pay your property taxes.Next, the holder of your mortgage must send
notice to the borrower of its intent to foreclose
.The borrower will not get much advance notice – Georgia law requires that the notice be sent at least30 days before the date of the proposed foreclosure sale. The notice must be in writing and includethe name, address, and telephone number of someone who has authority to negotiate, amend, andmodify the terms of the mortgage with the borrower. The notice must also be sent to the borrower byregistered or certified mail or statutory overnight delivery, return receipt requested, and include a copyof the advertisement of the foreclosure sale that will be published in the official county newspaper forpublic announcements. Refusing to accept a notice sent by registered or certified mail is a bad idea; itwill not invalidate the notice.The holder of your mortgage must
of the foreclosure in the official county newspaperfor public announcements where the real property is located for four consecutive weeks prior to thescheduled foreclosure.If it has not already done so, the holder of your mortgage must file proof that it owns title to thesecurity instrument related to the real property with the clerk of the superior court of the county inwhich the real property is located, prior to the start of the foreclosure sale. This proof is usually in theform of an
of the promissory note and deed to secure debt. Since mortgages are oftensold or assigned, this requirement may assist the borrower with identifying the current holder of theirmortgage.The
will take place on the courthouse steps in the county where the property islocated. By law, foreclosure sales take place on the first Tuesday of the month between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Bidding is open to the public, but the mortgage holder often is the onlybidder. The mortgage holder will sign a
deed of foreclosure
to the winning bidder, which may wellbe itself. At that point, the winning bidder becomes the new owner of the property.10. What happens after the foreclosure sale has taken place?