Thursday, August 18

New York Attorney General Launches App to Help Homeowners Avoid Foreclosure Scams

A new web-based app, designed to help New Yorkers determine the legitimacy of foreclosure rescue offers, was launched on Tuesday by New York State’s attorney general. The goal of the new app is to make it easier for New York homeowners to identify foreclosure scams.

As the basis for the new app, called AGScamHelp, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman organized a network of 86 counseling and legal services who have agreed to provide free help to struggling homeowners in the state.

“While my office is committed to cracking down on scam operations that target struggling New Yorkers, the most powerful tool against these frauds is to ensure that consumers are informed and aware of the free services that are available to them,” said Schneiderman, according to News 10 NBC.

With the app, homeowners are able to verify which companies offering foreclosure rescues have been approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which includes a list of 145 counseling agencies, as well as approved New York-based companies that are part of the state’s Homeowner’s Protection Program.

New Yorkers have filed 2,700 complaints of foreclosure rescue scams over the last four years, totaling over $8 million in losses. The state has continued to investigate fraudulent mortgage modification companies, and it won a case just last month against a Farmingdale-based lender.

Many homeowners eligible for home mortgage adjustments are lured in by companies offering to help them avoid foreclosures. These companies say they will provide services to help reduce monthly payments or principal costs after receiving an initial fee from the homeowner. Unfortunately, a number of these offers turn out to be scams and homeowners never receive the promised help, leaving them in even deeper financial trouble than before.

“Foreclosures have remained at about the same level for the past several years,” says Brain Haggerty, Broker for Haggerty Real Estate Services. “If homeowners can find help to avoid scams this is always good.”

Many government agencies have started initiating programs to educate homeowners, particularly those from low-income households, on the dangers of foreclosure scams and how to avoid them. The Federal Trade Commission has a list of recommendations for avoiding scams on its website, including staying away from programs that ask for an upfront fee, guarantee results no matter the circumstance or tell homeowners not to contact their lawyer or lender.

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