Learning to Avoid Mortgage Scams

Program Helps Educate Consumers

Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Adam Zipkin, South Ward Councilman Ras Baraka and other officials launched the “Know it, Avoid It, Report It” campaign in New Jersey to educate consumers on how to avoid predatory loan modifications and foreclosure scams and to encourage them to report these activities. The campaign was announced Wednesday at Episcopal Community Development, a prominent city-wide approved by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The federal “Know it, Avoid It, Report It” campaign in New Jersey aims to educate consumers to avoid predatory loan modifications and foreclosure scams and to encourage them to report such activities. The campaign started in 2011 in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles as a way to inform struggling homeowners about their rights and the importance of working with HUD-approved housing counseling agencies.

HUD encourages homeowners to call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673) or by visiting www.hud.gov/preventloanscams to get the facts about mortgage fraud, and report suspected scammers.
To obtain help and avoid being the victim of mortgage scams, go to HUD approved housing counseling agencies in New York and New Jersey by visiting http://www.hud.gov/offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hcs.cfm.
“Too many Newark families are being adversely impacted by the foreclosure crisis and are in danger of losing their homes. We are determined to support our struggling homeowners, and ensure that they have every tool available to help them fight foreclosure and keep their dream of home ownership a reality. I urge Newark residents to learn about the resources available to them to protect their homes from predatory loan modifications and foreclosure scams,” said Mayor Cory A. Booker in a statement.
“We are actively working in all of Newark’s neighborhoods with the highest risk of foreclosure – and have been for several years – to assure that residents have the knowledge and information they need to avoid foreclosure and mitigate its harm. We have a strong relationship with HUD-approved housing counselor organizations and welcome HUD bringing additional focus and attention to this growing problem. Newark’s neighborhoods are the foundation of our strong City. Awareness about the risks of foreclosure and a strong response when foreclosure strikes are the keys to maintaining strong neighborhoods throughout Newark,” said Deputy Mayor Zipkin.
The City and Essex County launched the Newark/Urban Essex Foreclosure Taskforce in November 2007, a coalition of more than 35 organizations that have come together to address the issues of foreclosure, predatory lending, mortgage scams, and home-purchasing. The group includes non-profit counseling agencies, advocacy groups, legal service organizations, researchers and a wide range of government agencies. In addition to supporting counseling services and promoting tenant rights, the taskforce also supports efforts to reclaim properties already empty due to foreclosure, and serves as a forum for communication among the different entities working on foreclosure prevention and intervention.
As a result of the foreclosure crisis, millions of distressed homeowners nationwide have become vulnerable targets to criminal third-party scammers, con artists, and thieves. Their tactics come in various forms including giving the false impression that they are affiliated with government programs, charging illegal up-front fees, and executing fraudulent lease-back financing schemes


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