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.

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
  • The National Council of Higher Education Resources (NCHER) is the nation’s oldest and largest higher education finance trade association. NCHER’s membership includes state, nonprofit, and for-profit higher education service organizations, including lenders, servicers, guaranty agencies, collection agencies, financial literacy providers, and schools, interested and involved in increasing college access and success. It assists its members in shaping policies governing federal and private student loan and state grant programs on behalf of students, parents, borrowers, and families.

  • Since 2007, the Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) has served as a trusted, neutral source of information for more than eight million homeowners. They are partnered with, and endorsed by, numerous major government agencies, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of the Treasury.

  • The mission of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is to create strong, sustainable, inclusive communities and quality affordable homes for all. HUD works to strengthen the housing market in order to bolster the economy and protect consumers; meet the need for quality affordable rental homes; utilize housing as a platform for improving quality of life; and build inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.

  • The Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit, human service accrediting organization. Their mission is to partner with human service organizations worldwide to improve service delivery outcomes by developing, applying, and promoting accreditation standards.

  • The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®), founded in 1951, is the nation’s largest and longest-serving nonprofit financial counseling organization. The NFCC’s mission is to promote the national agenda for financially responsible behavior, and build capacity for its members to deliver the highest-quality financial education and counseling services.