Consumer Alert

Beware of Mortgage Relief Scams

In Alaska and across the country, mortgage relief scammers continue to prey on homeowners who are experiencing financial difficulties.  These scammers falsely claim that, for a fee, they will negotiate with the homeowner's mortgage lender or servicer to obtain a loan modification, a short sale, or other relief from foreclosure. Many of these operations pretend to be affiliated with the government and government housing assistance programs.

Consumers should avoid any business that:

  • Asks for an up-front fee
  • Guarantees to stop the foreclosure process
  • Tells you not to make your mortgage payment or to send it to someone other than your lender or loan servicer
  • Informs you not to contact your lender, lawyer, or credit or housing counselor
  • Instructs you to transfer title or sell your house to a “foreclosure rescuer.”  This is a scam to convince homeowners they can stay in the home as renters and buy the home back later, but in fact the “rescuer” can then evict the victim and take the home.

The Federal Trade Commission's Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule prohibits loan modification services and foreclosure rescue services from charging advance fees. It also requires them to disclose that they are not associated with government programs and that the homeowner's lender may not agree to modify the loan. For more information about the MARS Rule, see FTC Issues Final Rule to Protect Struggling Homeowners from Mortgage Relief Scams.

For more information on what to do if you are behind on mortgage payments or fear that you might be soon, visit the following websites: 

U.S. Housing and Urban Development

Federal Trade Commission

If you’ve been the victim of a mortgage relief scam, you can file a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission

Consumer Protection Unit
December 2010 (revised May 6, 2011)