The ink is barely dry on the $25 billion
dollar mortgage settlement with banks that is meant, in part, to compensate homebuyers
hurt by fraudulent foreclosures but the scam artists are already at the
door. The Rhode Island Attorney General
is warning consumers in his state that some homeowners have been contacted by
individuals claiming to have a list of persons eligible for funds from the
settlement and are misrepresenting their credentials.
Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin said
that persons have been reported to be posing as bank employees or settlement administrators
and requesting bank account information in order to deposit settlement funds
into the homeowner's account. Kilmartin
said none of the lenders, who will eventually be responsible for contacting
eligible homeowners, have yet begun to do so.
There have been other reports that
fliers are appearing in Rhode Island neighborhoods that have been particularly hard
hit by foreclosures offering assistance in obtaining mortgage modifications.
Kilmartin said, "Unfortunately, during this time when many Rhode Island
homeowners are struggling with their mortgages or facing foreclosure, there are
unscrupulous scam artists seeking to take advantage of homeowners in desperate
financial straits. This behavior is not
only despicable, but in Rhode Island, it is illegal for an individual or an
entity to charge an up-front fee to assist with mortgager modification.
Individual lenders have set up
special hotlines for borrowers to call with questions about the settlement
benefits. The Attorney General said that
consumers should not give bank account or any other personal information to
anyone of whom they are unsure. Also, there
are no fees required to participate in the Office of the Comptroller of the
Currency's Independent Foreclosure Review Program or in the Attorneys General
Answers to frequently asked questions and lender contact information can be found here: http://www.nationalmortgagesettlement.com/help/#ConsumerAlert