Juan here, from the AllClear ID Investigations Team.  Consumers who are at risk of losing their homes to foreclosure are being targeted and victimized by foreclosure “rescue” services. These services bill themselves as being able to weed through mortgage contracts and paperwork to look for errors and unscrupulous practices by lenders. According to them, these findings would then be brought to light and corrected, possibly allowing owners to keep their homes. However, they typically just gather consumer information, take the initial payment of fees for the service, and then disappear. Or even worse, as this Business Week story shows, they’ll have an unsuspecting customer sign away the deed to his home.

The scammers pose as legitimate companies that exist solely to assist consumers who may lose their homes.  . Since they have no way of finding out whose mortgage is in danger (that is, they cannot search or weed through contracts or loans), they put out the bait (you’ve probably seen ads like “Stop Foreclosure. Call Us NOW!!!” around your own neighborhood) to have nervous, scared consumers contact them.

Given the current financial landscape, these thieves have their primary targets. They seem to be most prominent in regular, middle-class neighborhoods.  The crime starts with a phone call; they explain the fees and state that payment must be taken right away.  Once the payment is made, they ask for either mortgage records, or personal info. The criminals then begin using that information online – either to establish credit, or selling it to identity thieves.

If you’re looking got help with your home loan, beware of offers by so-called “forensic loan auditors”, “mortgage loan auditors”, or “foreclosure prevention auditors” to review your mortgage loan documents. There’s a big chance that it’s nothing but a scam. They cannot guarantee that anyone will keep their home.  In fact, they don’t even make an effort to help.  It is just a clever way to lure nervous, emotional consumers to give up personal information and pay hundreds or thousands of dollars for false hope.

The Federal Trade Commission offers good information about mortgage frauds, and the newest twist to those, forensic mortgage loan audits. Read their articles to spot the telltale signs of these scams, and how to find legitimate help.