Older Americans Month And Scams (Loan Mods, specifically)

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AARP
Image by RobotSkirts via Flickr

The title of this post sounds like a contradiction in terms unless you are a scammer. I’m not talking about the Bernie Madoff type of scam but ones on a milder scale. I’ll let someone else write about brother Bernie and his shenanigans.

My thoughts on scammers turned into words all thanks to an article by the Nevada Attorney General I read in a senior citizen’s magazine this week. This kind lady didn’t lose sight of the foreclosure crisis we happen to be in here in the Silver State. It seems the home foreclosure rescue scam puppies are out in force since we lead the nation in the number of foreclosures.

Even if we didn’t lead the nation, we’d be close to the top given our particular predicament. Our predicament is probably a lot like the predicament you see in your area so I won’t belabor that point. After all, a sleeping dog is best left sleeping.

Cottage Industry

According to the AG, the mortgage crisis has spawned a cottage industry of companies that promise to help troubled home owners negotiate modifications to their mortgages for a fee. “They call themselves Loan Modification Specialists”, she was quoted as saying. Funny she should say that since I just wrote a post about loan modification. Granted in that post I looked at only the honest side of the business.

Her job is to look at the seamy side of the business. She was deluged with complaints from homeowners, many of them senior citizens, who said they were promised everything under the sun before they signed on the dotted line. One company even promised a 100% money back guarantee if the foreclosure couldn’t be stopped. The fee for their service was $5000 payable in advance.

In another case, the homeowners paid a monthly fee for the duration of the loan modification to the con artist in addition to a hefty up front fee. If the foreclosure wasn’t stopped, the homeowners were promised a full money back guarantee. As in the above case, their promise was simply hot air.

Since foreclosures have been a problem in every state of the union, I would bet your AG has a hotline set up you can call, and an office you can visit to get information on loan modification companies and a web site with a page dedicated to this type of scam. They also will have an online complaint form you can fill out should you, or a friend, need one.

The problem with the AG is obvious. They can only act after the fact. That means many scammers go undetected until they wreak havoc on the population. Even then, some get away scot free.

As with all such situations, the consumer is best advised to do research on any loan modification company that contacts them. Chances are good if the company is actually using attorneys to do the loan modificatin, that company is reputable. Obviously this statement is an overly broad simplification but it is a good place to start.

Remember, your AG’s office is only a phone call away. They should be on your checklist of agencies to call for verification of the loan modification company. Your local DA’s consumer’s office is another good contact.

Older Americans Month

Older Americans Month is another way to say Senior Citizens Month. May is the month we in the United States honor our senior citizens. Unfortunately the scammers don’t care whether the person is a senior citizen or middle aged or just starting out in life. All they see is money.

I believe it was coincidence that the Nevada AG’s warning came out early this month but nonetheless I am glad it did. We can never have to much news about the scammers and their practices. By the same token, I thank the Nevada AG for letting me tie Older Americans Month into an informative post. Being a senior citizen (sometimes) has its perks.

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7 Comments

  1. It is definitely unfortunate that people are out to scam others – its worse that many target the elderly. There’s a special place in hell for those folks.

  2. Tom,

    The best way to get the public, seniors and everyone else, in on these scams is to talk about them everywhere. The more the better. It really is deplorable that seniors have become targets in this. When a loan modification firm asks for money up front, look out. It’s not good for your wallet.

  3. Morons that scam old people have no dignity and no heart. It`s like stealing candy from some kid; it`s simply something you dont do. One other thing that have become “popular” here i Norway is to follow old people back to their house after they`ve been out getting groceries or something like that. When they unlock the door they assailant jumps them, beats the crap out of them, and steal all their money. It`s just sad.

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