A fraud alert has been issued to the Armed Services community to combat scams targeted at homeowners seeking to apply for mortgage assistance through the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) and other federal programs. A number of these scams are specifically targeting members of the Armed Services community.
Mortgage modification fraud schemes targeting struggling homeowners and which exploit the federal Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) have become increasingly common, and members of the Armed Services community struggling to make their mortgage payments should beware of con artists and scams that promise to save their homes and lower their mortgage debt or payments.
The fraud alert is designed to raise awareness of these scams and provides a list of resources available to members of the Armed Services community for more information and for assistance with mortgage-related questions and how to report fraud.Hallmarks of HAMP mortgage modification scams include: the unofficial use of official program names or logos of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and/or lenders; the advertising of a very high success rate in achieving modifications; and the guarantee of a successful modification in exchange for an upfront fee. Free help is always available.
The alert was issued by the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (SIGTARP), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the U.S. Department of the Treasury (Treasury).
In December 2011, SIGTARP, CFPB, and Treasury formed a taskforce to protect taxpayers by investigating and shutting down HAMP mortgage modification scams and by providing education to raise awareness among vulnerable homeowners. The taskforce issued a consumer fraud alert which contains tips on how to identify and avoid mortgage modification scams.
“Members of the Armed Services community often face unique financial challenges and are at particular risk for this type of scam,” said Christy Romero, Special Inspector General at SIGTARP. “We want to empower servicemembers and their families with information so that they can easily recognize and avoid these scams and also provide them with resources on where to turn for additional information and assistance. SIGTARP will continue to work with the CFPB and Treasury and our other partners in law enforcement to shut down these scams and to ensure that their perpetrators are held accountable for their crimes.”
“I applaud the new HAMP guidelines that have special provisions for military personnel. But at the same time it’s important to remind military personnel and their families that there are scammers out there who may guarantee to get them a mortgage modification – for a fee up front. Don’t lose your money on one of those offers – there are plenty of legitimate, free resources for you if you are looking to modify your loan,” explained Holly Petraeus, Assistant Director, CFPB’s Office for Servicemember Affairs.
“Treasury is fully committed to working with SIGTARP and the CFPB to shut down mortgage scams that falsely represent themselves as government programs,” said Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Tim Massad. “Unfortunately, certain scammers target military families ““ and we want to make sure military families know to protect themselves and make use of free resources for assistance.”