What is the primary reason struggling homeowners don't seek help?

Homeowners face real concerns when considering who to turn to for help with mortgage troubles, according to a recent Money Management International (MMI) survey. When asked about concerns regarding available resources and options for mortgage assistance, the majority of survey respondents (53 percent) stated they were concerned about scams and fraudulent services. 

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), mortgage fraud is an escalating problem. In fact, it is the fastest-growing white collar crime in the U.S. The FBI estimates annual losses of $4 billion to $6 billion in mortgage-related fraud, and the numbers are expected to increase.

While there are legitimate programs to help ailing homeowners, there are also many scams that capitalize on these programs. The following are tips to help you avoid falling into a foreclosure trap:

  • Talk to your mortgage lender first. If you think you are unable to make a payment, contact your lender right away. They may be able to help you identify options to bring your loan current.
  • Don’t pay upfront fees. Someone asking you to pay an upfront fee in exchange for help should be a red flag that the person or company may not have your best interest at heart.
  • Get promises in writing. Oral agreements relating to your home are usually not legally binding. Protect your rights with a written contract signed by the person making the promise.
  • Make mortgage payments directly to your lender or mortgage servicer. Do not trust anyone else to make your mortgage payments for you.
  • Be careful about transferring your title. Foreclosure scams often require you to sign ownership of your home over to a third party. Never sign over your deed without seeking legal advice first. Understand the terms of the deal you are making. By signing over your deed, you lose rights to your home and any equity.

For the millions of homeowners who still face possible foreclosure, it is important to remember that quality help is available free-of-charge from HUD-certified housing counselors nationwide. If you or someone you know has questions or concerns about their mortgage payment or loan should, contact a housing counselor today to discuss your options. 

View the complete survey results here.

Jessica Horton is a former copywriter and community manager at MMI.