If you want to lower your monthly mortgage payments, don’t trust businesses that tell you to stop making your payments.
In May, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine filed a lawsuit against a Toledo loan modification business called NMMSR Inc., which operated as Making Home Affordable USA.
The business told consumers to stop making their mortgage payments (even if they were current on their payments) and said banks and lenders would not negotiate with them unless they were behind on their payments. Consumers paid 60 to 65 percent of their current mortgage payment to the business, thinking the funds would be held in escrow and submitted to their lenders once a modification was reached. But consumers’ lenders never received any of the funds placed into the accounts.
Plus, although the business’ name — Making Home Affordable USA — and website closely resemble that of the federal government’s Making Home Affordable program, the business is not associated with the federal government.
About 30 consumers filed complaints against the business with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission. Their losses total around $75,000. Many additional victims likely have been affected.
The lawsuit charges the business and its owner with violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act and Telephone Solicitation Sales Act. Specific counts include failure to deliver, encouraging consumers to default on their mortgages, and failing to register as a telephone solicitor. The Attorney General seeks consumer restitution, permanent injunctive relief, and civil penalties.
If you want to lower your mortgage payments or get help avoiding foreclosure, beware of foreclosure rescue scams.
Specifically, watch out for businesses that:
Guarantee to save your home, no matter your circumstances
Insist you do not contact your lender, lawyer, or housing counselor
Insist you stop paying your mortgage
Collect a fee before providing services
Encourage you to lease your home and buy it back over time
Want you to make your mortgage payments to them instead of your servicer
Ask you to transfer your property deed or title to them
Pressure you to sign paperwork you have not read thoroughly or don't understand
For free foreclosure assistance, contact Save the Dream Ohio at www.savethedream.ohio.gov
or 888-404-4674. If you believe that you or someone you know has been a victim of a loan modification scam, report it to www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov