Beware of Fraudulent "Making Home Affordable" Offers
08/16/2016 Katy Herbst de Cortina
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- More than 1 million customers
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Beware of Fraudulent “Making Home Affordable” Offers. Owning a home can be expensive and, as one of your largest assets, it's important to protect. As a homeowner, you may receive hundreds of offers a year to refinance or modify your home loan, promising a lower monthly payment. Unfortunately, not all offers are legitimate.
There are companies out there targeting homeowners with fraudulent offers. These scammers call and mail homeowners pretending to be your mortgage servicer or a representative from the Federal Government's Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP). They prey on unsuspecting homeowners by offering fake loan modifications and “trial payment plans”, along with promises of lower monthly mortgage payments. And while these scammers may send genuine-looking letters with your mortgage company's logo and account number, they also provide deceptive contact information in an effort to route your payment away from your servicer and directly to them. In fact, they may also call from telephone numbers that show up on caller ID as the homeowner's actual mortgage company.i
The federal government’s Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) is set to end on December 31, 2018, so you may begin to see even more of these fraudulent offers as the program deadline approaches.
What to Do If You Get an Offer That Seems Too Good to be True
It's important to be cautious about the loan modification offers you receive. Beware of anyone who says they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house. Only your mortgage servicer has the ability to grant a loan modification, so paying a third party to assist with your modification application does not improve your likelihood of receiving a mortgage modification.
Here are some red flags that can alert you that an offer may not be legitimate:
- Guarantees to get you a loan modification or stop the foreclosure process — no matter what your circumstances
- Warnings not to contact your lender, lawyer, or housing counselor
- Asking for an upfront fee before providing you services
- Accepting payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer
- Telling you to make your mortgage payments directly to the service, rather than your lender
Never submit your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without your mortgage company's approval. If you are a PennyMac customer, you should know that, while fraudulent offer letters or calls may insist or require you to remit your monthly mortgage payment by MoneyGram or Western Union only, there are other valid forms of payment to PennyMac that can be found on your monthly statement. Or, you may find additional payment options by logging in to your online PennyMac account through our secure portal.
If you suspect that an offer is too good to be true, it probably is. As a PennyMac customer, there are steps that you can take to protect yourself:
- Contact Your Lender — If you're concerned that you may have gotten a fraudulent offer, call us at (866) 545-9070 to confirm before making a payment.
- Continue to Make Your Regular Payments — After contacting PennyMac, continue to make your regular payments using the payment instructions on your PennyMac monthly statement.
Does PennyMac Offer Loan Modification Programs?
Yes! If you are interested in a loan modification, PennyMac Loan Services, LLC offers a variety of programs, including the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) through the Federal Government's Making Home Affordable program. HAMP is designed specifically to help homeowners impacted by financial hardship. A HAMP loan modification can help borrowers stay in their homes and make their monthly home loan payments more affordable.
As an informed homeowner, you can make better decisions about your home loan.