By Niayai Lavien
Many homeowners are facing increased financial hardships due to unemployment and COVID-19. Scammers are taking advantage of the current economic fallout of the pandemic and employing elaborate scams to trick homeowners out of their properties. Older adults and the economically disadvantaged are more likely to be targets of these abusive practices.
The CDC’s federal eviction and foreclosure moratorium ends on July 31, 2021. The moratorium allows individuals and families living in federally financed properties to stay in their homes throughout the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also allows families to receive financial assistance to stay current on their rent and mortgage payments.
With the moratorium ending, consumers, especially homeowners, should know their options and learn how to prevent themselves from being scammed.
A foreclosure rescue scam is when a scammer tricks a homeowner into signing away ownership of their home for dramatically less than its current worth. Scammers often target homeowners who are in the middle of foreclosure by promising that they can stop a foreclosure from happening while hiding the fact that the homeowner is signing over title to the property.
Scammers search public records to prey on homeowners who are in danger of foreclosure through failure to pay property taxes, mortgage or homeowners association dues. They also look for older homeowners who have paid off their mortgage, but have trouble with the financial upkeep of their home.
Common abusive practices include:
- Aggressive solicitation via phone, text message, mail and door hangers
- Downplaying the value of the home
- Pressure to sign a document or contract without the presence of a Realtor or attorney
Whatever the particular factors surrounding a homeowner’s situation, the scammer’s goal is to steal the home’s dollar while a person is in a high pressure situation.
Do’s and Don’ts of Foreclosure Scams:
Don’t → Fall for unsolicited offers to buy your home or help you sell your home without any cost.
Don’t → Make a decision regarding your home without getting a second opinion.
Don’t → Be pressured into signing any papers until you’ve talked with an attorney.
Do → Consult with a HUD approved counseling agency to talk about your options.
Do → Be wary of out-of-state law firms, organizations and groups offering to provide assistance.
Do → Contact Charlotte Center for Legal Advocacy’s Consumer Protection Team for assistance at 704-376-1600.