Also see Mortgage Help for Oregon Homeowners
Protecting Homeowners From Scams
The Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) has made it a priority to protect homeowners. We aggressively pursue companies and individuals who engage in loan modification, foreclosure rescue fraud and other mortgage-related scams, including:
- phony offers of counseling or help.
- cons where homeowners unknowingly sign away their home.
- lease-to-own schemes where a scammer claims to sell a house but pockets all the payments.
The Oregon DOJ investigates and prosecutes the Mortgage Rescue Fraud Prevention Act and other mortgage and foreclosure rescue fraud offenses. Violations may incur civil and criminal penalties, including prison.
Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams
Be aware when a counselor or company:
- guarantees to stop the foreclosure process no matter what.
- instructs you not to contact your lender, lawyer or credit or housing counselor.
- encourages you to rent your own home so you can buy it back over time.
- tells you to make your mortgage payments directly to it, rather than your lender.
- tells you to transfer your property deed or title to it.
- offers to buy your house for cash at a fixed price that is not set by the housing market at the time of sale.
- offers to fill out paperwork for you.
Get it in Writing
Your home is an extremely important asset, so it’s ok to ask anyone you are working with to put a description of all services and promises in writing. Make sure you fully understand the documents before you sign them, or you could inadvertently sign away your home to someone else. Keep all of your records.
Don’t Pay Upfront
If a counselor demands you make a payment before receiving services, or will only accept payment via cash, automatic withdrawal, cashier’s check or wire transfer, be extremely suspicious. Make sure you know exactly what services you will receive before paying anything. Also, you don’t have to pay thousands – or even hundreds – of dollars for mortgage counseling as approved counselors provide their services at little or no charge.
Make Sure Your Counselor is HUD-approved
Scammers may contact you by mail, phone, online or in person and sometimes try to appear associated with your lender or the government. The State of Oregon and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have searchable lists of approved counseling agencies. Ask your counselor if their agency is HUD-approved or state approved and then double check. Visit the HUD website » or call 1-877-483-1515 to find out if your counselor is HUD-approved. Visit oregonhomeownersupport.gov » to find out if your counselor is state approved.
Are You Being Offered a Short Sale?
A “short sale” is a term used to describe a transaction where the sale price of the property will not generate enough proceeds to pay off the existing mortgage or mortgages and where the lender(s) agrees to accept less than full payoff. It is a type of loan modification. Learn more with this short sale FAQ guide ».
Know Your Rights
Oregon law requires your lender to inform you about mortgage modification options and allow you to request good-faith negotiations which may help you avoid foreclosure.
If you think you have been a victim or want to notify us about an individual, company or agency that may be engaging in mortgage or foreclosure rescue scams, complete a Consumer Complaint Form » or call 1-877-877-9392.
Organizations You Can Trust
This is a joint effort by counselors, mortgage companies and other entities designed to help homeowners in distress stay in their homes. HOPE NOW can help you locate free counseling and contact your mortgage company. Visit the HOPE NOW website » or call 888-995-HOPE for more information. The hotline is staffed by HUD-approved credit counselors who can guide you through your options.
Making Home Affordable
This initiative is part of a federal plan to help homeowners keep their home by refinancing mortgages and avoiding foreclosures. Visit the Making Home Affordable website » for details.
Learn More From the Federal Trade Commission
- Mortgage Relief Scams » | Estafas de alivio para deudores hipotecarios »
- Deceptive Mortgage Ads » | Anuncios engañosos de hipotecas »
- Facing Foreclosure? » | ¿Está enfrentando una ejecución hipotecaria? »
- When Paying the Mortgage is a Struggle » | Cuando pagar la hipoteca es una lucha »
- Coping with Debt » | Lidiando con deudas »
- The Real Estate Marketplace Glossary: How to Talk the Talk (PDF) »