WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Fraudsters are targeting troubled borrowers facing foreclosure in a scheme that could leave homeowners with even more debt than they otherwise would face, a new online video warns.
In the video that dramatizes a common case of fraud, a homeowner receives an unsolicited offer to help settle mortgage debt but ends up homeless and with battered credit.
Under a common scheme, a con artist will seek out a public notice of foreclosure and approaches the potential victim with documents and the promise of sorting out the debt.
"You sign, thinking you are saving your home but you are really giving the con artist the deed to your house," according to the video called Avoid Fraud, which can be found on the Internet site YouTube. (www.youtube.com/avoidfraud )
Once a con artist has the deed to a home, he can strip out any untapped value and also charge new expenses under the borrower’s name, according to Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance company that produced the video.
Rather than accept unsolicited offers of help, troubled borrowers should contact their mortgage servicer or lender directly, Freddie Mac advises.
Borrowers can also get free credit counseling help from a government-chartered program called HOPE NOW by dialing 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).
Freddie Mac produced the film because one in four troubled borrowers turn to the Internet for advice first on how to get help saving their homes, said Ingrid Beckles, the company’s vice president for asset management.
“With fraud reports on the rise, we are using every communication channel out there to warn borrowers about these fraudsters and urge borrowers to call their lenders when they fall behind on their mortgage,” she said.
Editing by Jan Paschal