When I was with the LAPD full time, I remember some of the "lenders and realtors" that advertised by hanging stuff up on the bulletin boards. We had 18 geographical divisions then - today, I think we are around 21ish, plus 4 traffic division It's a big department. With a lot of bulletin boards.
The game that was being played was printed on colorful flyers and it talked about some type of "City Program" to assist police officers and fire fighters with costs and fees associated with borrowing money and buying a home. However, to take advantage of this program, you had to use one of the 'preferred' realtors or preferred lenders. Come to find out "preferred" referred to someone that was in on the "con". :(
There was no special program at that time. There was no city program. There was no program that had been blessed by the local government to provide assistance with a police officers or firefighters closing costs or fees. There was nothing in the way of a "discount" when using this "city sponsored program". To let you in on a little secret - some were using the "official" city seal on their advertising that was hanging around the police stations. However, they were doing so without permission or without the program being something that was real.
This story brings me to the news that has "ever present" since this latest collapse of the real estate market and economy. With Loan modifications, short sales and other types of "help" being offered by realtors, banks and legal firms - the scammers have come out in droves. Lately we have had reports of Government "appearing" types going door to door to talk with "distressed" homeowners to have them use them to get a loan Modification or some type of government relief.
They do it by email and direct mail as well. They may be using a Government Seal or Logo. Although it is official as presented on their documents and on-line, it is not being permitted by nor sanctioned by the Government.
Some of these programs and solicitations are a pure and outright scam. Beware if those that are contacting you by direct mail, door knocking, or by calling are telling you to stop making your mortgage payment. When we speak with some of the Short Sale Sellers that interview us in our offices, they often ask - "Should I stop making my house payments?" I always reply in the same way, "I cannot, nor can anyone tell you to stop making your payments, that is a decision for you and yours alone.."
Some of the other red flags when it comes to these real estate scammers is if they are promising you a Loan Modification. They may also be charging you some type of "up front fee" or want you to sign over your home to them. They may be presenting you with a lot of paperwork that they want you to sign without giving you time to read and understand it. They could also be asking you to sign over title to your home.
If you think someone is trying to scam you - Give the Department of Housing and Urban Development a Call - (855)411-2372 - There will be a HUD approved housing counselor that will be glad to help you on the other end. Monday thru Friday from 8am to 8pm Eastern Standard Time.
Be Safe - talk soon and thanks for reading and sharing to your friends so they can keep safe against scammers too!!!