“Whenever there is a new or updated government program that may be a bit confusing, scammers come out of the woodwork to take advantage of consumers,” said Toby Barfield, president and CEO of BBB serving Eastern North Carolina. “There are already hundreds of Web sites claiming to be able to help homeowners through the HARP process, but unfortunately many of them are scams.”
BBB is advising all homeowners who are considering applying for a HARP refinance to:
• Deal directly with your lender first and never make payments to anyone other than your lender
• Do not pay upfront fees to anyone who promises to provide counseling, take care of the paperwork for you or stop the foreclosure process
• Be wary of anyone who tells you not to contact your lender, a lawyer or a credit counselor, or who asks for payment by wire transfer
• Never sign over your deed to anyone or allow yourself to be pressured into signing something you do not understand
• Be careful of look-alike and sound-alike Web sites
• Find out if you qualify by going to: www.makinghomeaffordable.gov/
• Report scams at bbb.org
The changes to the HARP program were announced by President Obama in October to allow homeowners to refinance at lower interest rates, even if their home is currently worth less than their mortgage. The new HARP rules apply to homeowners who are current on their payments and whose loans are backed by either FannieMae or FreddieMac.
Additional mortgage tips are available at bbb.org.
About BBB serving Eastern North Carolina
Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving 33 counties in eastern North Carolina. The organization is funded primarily by BBB Accredited Business fees from more than 3,000 local businesses and professional firms. BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by BBB include reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, consumer/business education programs and dispute resolution services. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of mediation and arbitration. Visit bbb.org.