Straight Talk: Don’t fall for foreclosure rescue scams
By Better Business Bureau
Posted Aug 9, 2020 at 11:00 AM
Are you facing the threat of losing your home? Be wary of individuals and companies offering to “help” you out of your difficult financial situation. Consumer advocates report an increase in complaints about foreclosure “rescue” scams. These scams specifically target homeowners who are in financial distress. Scam operators may advertise over the Internet and in local publications, plaster posters on telephone poles and at bus stops, stick flyers in people’s front doors or contact people whose homes are listed in public foreclosure notices. Sometimes they direct their appeals to specific religious or ethnic groups.
HOW THE SCAM WORKS
In one scenario, the scam operator offers to “buy” the homeowner’s property by paying off the amount that is overdue on the loan. The scammer convinces the homeowner to deed the property over to a third party. The homeowner is given the option of renting the property with the option to buy it back later. The rent payment on the home is often higher than the homeowner can afford. Frequently, the original homeowner cannot make the rent payment and is evicted from their home. Or, if the homeowner expresses a desire to buy back the property, the scam operator usually sets the price of the home higher than the homeowner can afford.
Hapless homeowners can lose their equity and their homes. Sometimes, the homeowner’s troubles go even deeper. In many cases, the initial mortgage has not been paid off and the deed was never transferred, as promised. Not only is the homeowner faced with eviction from the home, but the scam victim may still owe for the original loan amount.
In other versions of the scam, the homeowner receives a call, text, or email with the promise of lowering the mortgage payment and avoiding foreclosure. The scammer sometimes asks for payment for their services in the form of personal checks or gift cards. A recent victim in Ohio reported to BBB Scam Tracker that she sent $3000 in Walmart gift cards to a scammer asking for payment to help lower her interest rate.
The Better Business Bureau advises consumers who are tempted by such offers to recognize that they are at real risk of losing money, equity, their home or all three.
Tips to help if your mortgage is in arrears or you are facing foreclosure:
‒ Talk to your lender. Ask how to restructure your loan payment or how to refinance. Some foreclosure “rescuers” will offer to “negotiate” with your lender or lawyer. Know that such an offer is likely to involve a significant fee. If you are hesitant to talk to your lender yourself, engage the assistance of a trusted family member.
‒ Try selling the house on your own to pay off the lender. Signing over a deed in no way releases you from your mortgage responsibilities!
‒ Don’t allow anyone to complete paperwork for you, or ask you to sign a stack of documents, supposedly to secure a new mortgage. Victims have later learned that they signed a quit-claim deed to their home.
‒ Beware the personal approach. Some less-than-ethical businesses will stuff a handwritten note in your front door or mailbox that implies that “help” is available from someone you know or who has your best interests in mind. Foreclosure scam artists know exactly what neighborhoods to blanket with their offers.
‒ If a foreclosure “rescuer” instructs you not to contact your mortgage company or your attorney, beware. Your mortgage company is the very business that you should be in touch with! Furthermore, why would you agree to cease contact with your attorney when dealing with complicated financial matters that involve perhaps your biggest investment, your home?
‒ You should never sign a contract under pressure and never sign away ownership of your property when you don’t intend to sell it. Ask a trusted family member, your attorney or a financial professional to review any paperwork you may be asked to sign.
‒ Never pay with gift cards. A reputable company will not ask for payment via a gift card.
‒ Before signing any deals with a potential buyer, contact BBB to request a report on the company and check with your state Attorney General and local government department of consumer affairs.
‒ Seek foreclosure prevention information. Try calling the HOPE hotline, 888-995-HOPE, for free foreclosure prevention information, or visit their website at 995hope.org. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website, the HOPE hotline is operated by the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit “dedicated to preserving homeownership and preventing foreclosure.”
FOR MORE INFORMATION Read more about housing scams in BBB’s Scam Alert on Home Title Fraud. This can be found at www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/22679-bbb-alert-home-title-fraud. If you encounter a scam, we ask that you report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker to help warn others.
New FTC Data Show Consumers Reported Losing More Than $200 Million to Romance Scams in 2019
New Federal Trade Commission data from the agency’s Consumer Sentinel Network show that consumers reported losing $201 million to romance scams in 2019—up nearly 40% since 2018.
Romance Scams InfographicRomance scammers prey on consumers who are looking for love, converting what feels like a budding relationship into an ask for money to help the scammer get out of some manufactured crisis. The stories and feelings can be compelling, and the losses can be huge.
In 2019, more than 25,000 consumers filed a report with the FTC about romance scams, and over the past two years total reported losses to romance scams were higher than to any other scam reported to the FTC.
A new blog post from the FTC has more information about the scams, including tips for recognizing a romance scam, along with a new infographic highlighting the latest data.
More information is also available on the FTC’s romance scam page, as well as in a video. Information about FTC complaint data can be found at ftc.gov/exploredata, and consumers can file a complaint at ftc.gov/complaint.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition, and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357). Like the FTC on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, read our blogs, and subscribe to press releases for the latest FTC news and resources.
CONTACT FOR CONSUMERS: Consumer Response Center. 877-382-4357
Sometimes people say that health care in the US is an example of "market failure" because health care has few, if any, of the traits that economists say make for fair markets where competition leads to optimal outcomes (lots of willing buyers who are able to walk away from a bad deal, lots of willing sellers competing for the business of the willing buyers, transparency in pricing, absence of monopoly control, etc.).
But calling the US health care a "market failure" is dumb, because it misses what game the Medical-Industrial Complex and Big Pharma are playing -- what they actually do and want to maximize.
Hospitals (even nominally "nonprofit" hospitals), labs, and especially drug companies are highly successful in what they do that they care about, which is the money markets. It's absurd to say US health care is a market failure when they provide a globally vastly inferior product while still commanding the highest prices by a long shot. If that's failure, it's the kind of failure every other business would like to have.
They are screaming successes at making money, and any "health" benefit is incidental to them - indeed, health hurts their business model, which is why they prioritize new, patentable products and treatments rather than prevention and changing the ways we live (and expose ourselves to pollutants) to enjoy greater health. They have erected enough barriers to competition and built such expensive entry tolls for health care practitioners that very few can refuse to become indentured servants to the "health care" industry or question its practices.
The "health care" system is the single biggest consumer ripoff in America today.
But it's definitely not a "market failure" -- it's just the screaming success that kills.
The Truth About Forced Arbitration -- the real story emerges from data from the arbitration companies themselves
Forced arbitration is a rigged system designed by corporations in which injured workers and consumers have no meaningful chance of finding justice.
Forced arbitration requires Americans to “agree” to surrender fundamental constitutional rights – often without ever realizing they’ve done so.
When corporations harm workers and consumers by cheating, stealing, or even breaking the law, cases that should be heard by a judge or jury are instead funneled into a secret system controlled by the wrongdoers in which there is no right to go to court, no right to a jury, no right to a written record, no right to discovery, no transparency, no legal precedents to follow, no opportunity for group actions when it would be too difficult or costly to file a claim alone, no guarantee of an adjudicator with legal expertise, no transparency, and no meaningful judicial review. Without such checks and balances, the deck is stacked heavily against workers, patients, and consumers, and systemic misconduct is allowed to continue in secret.
Forced arbitration’s proponents counter that the process is faster, fairer, and better for workers and consumers than going to court. However, this comprehensive analysis of the self-reported data provided by the arbitration organizations makes clear that forced arbitration is not an alternative judicial process, but instead eliminates claims, immunizes corporations, and allows abuse, discrimination, fraud, and essentially all other corporate wrongdoing to go unchecked.
Americans are more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to win a monetary award in forced arbitration.
Click on the image to get a copy of the full report or download it here.
Wells Fargo tries to send Innocent Pastor to Jail, Then Insists Pastor Should be Forced to Arbitrate Claims Against Wells Fargo
If there was ever a case that showed exactly how forced arbitration encourages and promotes corporate misconduct and arrogance, this is it. A pastor wrongly accused of theft because of Wells Fargo's screwup simply asks for an explanation and for Wells to pay his legal fees, fees he was forced to incur solely because of Wells and its screwup.
Wells tells him to go fly a kite, "apologizing" but refusing to cover his legal bills. And now Wells is trying to hide the case behind the stone wall of forced arbitration, where the judge of the case (the private arbitrator) is literally on Wells Fargo's payroll.
Starting in the 1970s, a series of radical decisions by the US Supreme Court tossed out the 70 years of precedent barring forced arbitration in employment and consumer cases. Since then, we've seen the entire civil justice system in America has essentially been gutted by these forced arbitration clauses in consumer and employment cases. Corporations use these clauses to cover up when they lie, cheat and steal, and arbitration protects outrageous criminal conduct by corporations by keeping others harmed in the same ways of having any ability to even know that others are fighting the same fight.
Forced arbitration is the end of any concept of Equal Justice Under Law in America, and its use is a huge part of the reason that while most Americans are struggling to keep up, the richest of the rich are becoming even richer without bounds.
Good Washington Post Article on How Car Dealers Rip You Off with Financing
Ian Ayres is the William K. Townsend professor at Yale Law School.
As websites such as Cars.com and TrueCar have made car pricing more transparent, auto dealers have turned to boosting their profits with hidden fees on loans.
When a consumer chooses in-house financing with an auto dealer, the dealer sends the customer’s financial information to a lender and is told the rate that the customer qualifies for. But it’s legal for the dealer to turn around and charge the customer a higher interest rate. You might qualify for a 5.9 percent interest rate, but if the dealer can get you to agree to a loan at 11 percent, the lender will kick back more than $1,000 to the dealership as pure profit. This discretionary markup of the interest rate allows auto dealers to arbitrarily increase their fees.
An analysis by the independent online auto-loan marketplace Outside Financial has found that dealers are charging an average markup of $1,791 per loan. By contrast, in 2003, Vanderbilt University economist Mark Cohen estimated that 10 percent of loans to Nissan’s borrowers were marked up more than $1,600. Now the average loan is boosted more than that.
. . .
Economists have had evidence for decades that car dealers tend to charge minorities higher prices. A series of studies I authored and co-authored in the 1990s found that auto dealers consistently charge black consumers prices that are hundreds or thousands of dollars more than their offers to white shoppers. These inflated prices can more than double the dealer’s profits compared with selling the same vehicle to a similar white customer.
. . .
The CFPB and other government agencies should be on the lookout for ways to better curtail dealership lending abuses. Yet instead of stepping up enforcement and protecting customers, the CFPB has rolled back rules on discriminatory lending practices and decreased enforcement of existing protections. Just last year, the Senate used the Congressional Review Act to overturn a CFPB rule that explicitly banned auto lenders from charging discriminatory fees on the basis of race. . . .
There are no “quick fixes” to clean up your credit
Mortgage Closing Scams: How to protect yourself and your closing funds
By Melissa Yu – JUN 03, 2019
Your Mortgage Closing Checklist
Closing is one of the most important stages of buying a house. Learn how to prepare and what to expect so you can close with confidence.
Closing on a new home can be one of your most memorable life moments. It’s the final and one of the most critical stages in the home-buying journey, but with the exchange of key paperwork and a sizable down payment, it can also be a stressful experience, especially for first-time homebuyers.
The FBI has reported that scammers are increasingly taking advantage of homebuyers during the closing process. Through a sophisticated phishing scam, they attempt to divert your closing costs and down payment into a fraudulent account by confirming or suggesting last-minute changes to your wiring instructions. In fact, reports of these attempts have risen 1,100 percent between 2015 and 2017, and in 2017 alone, there was an estimated loss of nearly $1 billion in real estate transaction costs.
While it’s easy to think you may not fall for this kind of scam, these schemes are complex and often appear as legitimate conversations with your real estate or settlement agent. The ultimate cost to victims could be the loss of their life savings.
Here’s what you should know and how to avoid it happening to you.
How it works
Scammers are increasingly targeting real estate professionals, seeking to comprise their email in order to monitor email correspondences with clients and identify upcoming real estate transactions. During the closing process, scammers send spoofed emails to homebuyers – posing as the real estate agent, settlement agent, legal representative or another trusted individuals – with false instructions for wiring closing funds.
How to avoid a mortgage phishing scam
What to do if it happens to you
While it can be easy to think you’ll never fall for a scam of this nature, the reality is that it’s becoming more and more common, and the results can be disastrous for eager homeowners. By being mindful and taking a few important steps ahead of your closing, you can protect yourself and your loved ones.
To learn more about the closing process, including how to prepare for your closing and common pitfalls to avoid, check out our Mortgage Closing Checklist. For information and resources for the each stage of the home-buying journey, visit the Bureau’s Buying a House tool.
The resources on mortgage closing scams are part of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s work to protect consumers from unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices. We arm people with the information, steps, and tools that they need to make smart financial decisions.
Secretary of State
255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151
Salem OR 97310
Contact: Corporation.Division@oregon.gov | 503-986-2200
Public Service Notice
Don’t be misled into wasting your hard-earned money!
Solicitation can easily be mistaken for official correspondence from the State of Oregon.
Your business is not currently due for renewal but will be in about 10 to 12 weeks.
The annual report fee for Oregon LLC is only $100.
Oregon Secretary of State Corporation Division wants to inform you about a questionable solicitation entitled “2019 – Annual Report Instruction Form."
Sent by Workplace Compliance Services – a private, for-profit, out-of-state company – the solicitation offers to file your Annual Report for an extra $85 “processing fee,” which is not required under Oregon law.
Official Annual Report notices or forms from the Secretary of State will always include the following:
1. The State of Oregon official state seal.
2. The Corporation Division address, 255 Capitol St. NE, Suite 151, Salem, OR 97310.
3. The Corporation Division phone number, 503-986-2200.
Additionally, the outer envelope will specify the mailing is from the “Secretary of State – Corporation Division.”
If you’d like to know when your Annual Report is due to be filed with the Secretary of State, visit sos.oregon.gov/bizsearch. We send a reminder via postal mail approximately 50 days before an Annual Report is due. The easiest way to file an annual report or to renew a business is through our online services at sos.oregon.gov/renew.
If you’re uncertain whether a solicitation is legitimate, call the Secretary of State Corporation Division at 503-986-2200 or check our Alert web page.
Oregon Secretary of State
John Gear Law Office -