In Los Angeles, two thirds of the families facing foreclosure who walk through the doors of our HUD-approved housing counseling agencies have been scammed by so-called mortgage modification consultants. These consultants promise the world to vulnerable homeowners desperate to stay in their homes, charge advanced fees as high as $5,000 and then take the money and run.
Today, I took a big step in increasing the resources that homeowners need in order to combat loan scams and foreclosure fraud. I announced the start of NeighborWorks America's national campaign against loan modification scams. I stood with Eileen Fitzgerald, Chief Operating Officer of NeighborWorks America, to deliver this simple message to Angelenos and the rest of country:
- You don't need to pay for a loan modification.
- If you are facing foreclosure, there are HUD-approved housing counseling agencies ready and able to assist you FOR FREE.
- If a deal sounds too good to be true, it is!
I was honored that NeighborWorks America chose Los Angeles to launch this valuable campaign. Over the past two and a half years, more than 28,000 Angelenos have fallen victim to foreclosure. That's 28,000 friends and neighbors who lost their homes and their stake in the American dream.
Over the past year, we have worked tirelessly to get the message out about the dangers of loan scams to our residents. In fact, in this crisis, we were the first city in the country to ban mortgage modification consultants from charging advanced fees.
It's high time that elected officials, non-profit organizations, and banks work together to shut the door on loan scams and foreclosure fraud once and for all.
As they say, forewarned is forearmed. By giving our homeowners credible information and directing them to reliable resources, we can beat these scammers! To report a scam or to spot a scam, homeowners should go to the NeighborWorks campaign website, or call 1-888-995-HOPE.