How to Investigate Loan Modification Scams

By: Timothy McFarlin | Published: June 29th, 2010 | Category: Loan Modification

When a borrower finds out they have been denied for a loan modification, the news can be crushing.  When they find out that the cause of their denial was due largely in part to the actions of scammers, the news can be terrifying.  Not only has a borrower wasted their hard earned money on a company that promised the world and delivered nothing, but now the most intimate and personal financial details of one’s life is in the hands of a scammer with no telling what the scammer intends to do with that information.

It is important for borrowers to understand how to investigate loan modification scams to ensure they themselves don’t become victims.  These tips will keep borrowers from becoming victims of scams, but it is not all inclusive.  Scammers are some brilliant folks and it is easy for them to adapt as more people learn their tricks or as laws change:

–Go local.  A borrower should never trust a loan modification company that they can’t go visit in person.  The business should have a legitimate address, not just a P.O. box.  Don’t be afraid to visit the establishment either, to verify that the address is real.

–Never pay upfront fees to loan modification consultants or experts.  In some jurisdictions, loan modification companies are forbidden by law from collecting upfront fees, but not in every jurisdiction.  Be sure to check local legal requirements to ensure the business is acting within the scope of the law.  Be aware that non-attorney loan modification companies and traditional law firms are two different things.  In jurisdictions that have outlawed the collection of upfront fees by loan modification consultants, the payment of a retainer to an attorney is usually acceptable.  The good thing about paying a retainer to an attorney is that it is much easier to verify the legitimacy of an attorney than it is to verify the legitimacy of a consultant.  Attorneys have to attend law school (or other acceptable method of study), must pass the Bar exam in their state, and must register with their state before being authorized to practice law.  All of these requirements create lengthy paper trails on the professional lives of attorneys that can be verified as legitimate with one call to the Bar of the state which the attorney practices in.  Loan modification consultants and experts don’t usually have such easily verifiable pasts, making the process of becoming an “expert” or “consultant” all the easier for the scammer.

–Cut out the middle man.  If a loan modification company pairs the borrower with a consultant or expert under the direction of an attorney, walk away.  The attorneys at the top of these food chains often have little to no knowledge of a person’s individual cases, making them less effective should the case go to trial.  Also, there is no attorney/client privilege that exists between a client and a consultant.  An attorney is one’s legal advisor, and as such, they should be easily accessible.  If a company makes access to an attorney difficult, then they aren’t acting in the best interests of the client.

Loan modification companies can’t predict the future.  As soon as a loan modification promises or guarantees a loan modification, the borrower should walk away.  The company has no way of knowing that the loan of their clients will be modified, and therefore can’t make a guarantee to it.  Attorneys will never guarantee the outcome of a legal process, but they will offer legally sound advice that will increase the borrower’s odds of acquiring a modification.

As mentioned above, this is only a partial list of how to investigate loan modi
fication scams.  Borrow
ers have to approach any offer to save them from foreclosure with great caution.  In most cases, it is best to hire a traditional attorney rather than a consultant trying to do the job of an attorney without the same knowledge or experience of an attorney.

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