Starting today, some homeowners who are “under water” with their mortgages can refinance under the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP), but the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona is warning consumers that banks and mortgage companies aren’t the only ones gearing up for the rush of applications.
“Whenever there is a new or updated government program that may be a bit confusing, scammers come out of the woodwork to take advantage of that confusion,” said Kim States, BBB President. “There are already hundreds of websites claiming to be able to help homeowners through the HARP process, but many of them are rip-offs and scams.”
BBB is warning all homeowners who are thinking of applying for a HARP refinance to:
- Deal directly with your lender first, and never make payments to anyone other than your lender.
- Don’t pay upfront fees to anyone who promises to provide counseling, takes care of the paperwork for you, or stops the foreclosure process.
- Be wary of anyone who tells you not to contact your lender, a lawyer or a credit counselor, or who asks for payment by cashier’s check or wire transfer.
- Never sign over your deed to anyone, or allow yourself to be pressured into signing something you don’t understand.
- Be especially careful of look-alike and sound-alike websites.
- Find out if you qualify by going to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov or by calling the Homeowner’s HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) to speak to a HUD-approved housing counselor for free (assistance is available in English and Spanish, and in other languages by appointment).
- Report scams to BBB at www.bbb.org/us/scam-source.
The changes to the HARP program were announced by President Obama in October to allow (more…)