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Beware of scammers promising to help you prevent foreclosure

Perhaps you have been faced with mounting debt or an emergency financial situation that has caused you to skip one or more mortgage payments. Now you are worried about losing your home.

You may become the target of scam artists who say they can help you resolve this problem, and some of them may sound quite legitimate. Here are three common scams you should know about:

Rent-to-own

Someone may pressure you to turn over the deed or title to your home in a scam that allows you to become a renter. In this kind of deal, you are told you can buy the home back at some point in the future. However, the scammer will likely make the terms impossible to meet; he or she has no intention of ever selling your home back to you.

Government-approved loan modification

A popular ruse is for a scammer to say that for a fee, you will be able to qualify for a mortgage modification program run by the government. In fact, the company or individual may have a website that looks quite official, but the URL will end in .com or some other common extension rather than .gov. Do not be fooled. Your lender can tell you whether you can qualify for government assistance to modify your loan.

Short sale negotiation

A scammer may contact you, introducing him or herself as a short sale processor or negotiator. You will be asked to pay a fee to begin the short sale process. There can be many illegalities associated with this kind of scam. If you wish to pursue a short sale for your home, your attorney can advise you.

Turning to legitimate help

An attorney who has seen every kind of foreclosure issue will tell you that some scammers even attempt to pass themselves off as lawyers. When you need assistance to manage your debts and retain ownership of your home, stay far away from scam artists. Make sure you only rely on professionals, both in terms of mortgage programs and foreclosure defense, to help you get back on track.

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