Our guest blogger today is Joel Ibanez, Office of Housing, Federal Housing Administration
Think scammers could never fool you?
Think again. Plenty of people fall prey. More than $31 million in fees and/or homes were reported lost to thieves and con artists in 2010.
That’s why today, HUD is launching a new campaign in Miami, Chicago, and Los Angeles called “Know It. Avoid It. Report It.” This campaign has two objectives:
• Ask all homeowners to help in shutting down scammers who regularly target the elderly, Hispanics and African Americans
• Direct homeowners facing foreclosure to trusted resources and government-approved housing counselors who can help homeowners for free.
We’ll do this by reaching out to you, homeowners, to show you how to recognize scammers’ tricks and give you anti-scam tools to report fraudsters. We’ll also work closely with our federal, state, local, and non-profit partners who can provide you with additional resources, advice, and protection.
Visit hud.gov/preventloanscams, and here’s what you’ll find:
• Information on how to avoid becoming a victim
• Scam artist red flags and fraud warning signs
• Complaint form and hotline to report fraud or suspicious activity
• Resources for finding HUD-approved counselors and free housing workshops in every state
• Names of individuals and companies identified by law enforcement agencies who have allegedly committed loan modification fraud or foreclosure relief scams
Even if your home is safe, it’s important to help protect your neighbors from fraud. Doing so helps not only your neighbors and your local economy, but also your property value. Foreclosures in your neighborhood may cause your home to lose value, putting you in an upside-down mortgage and making you prey to scammers. Fighting fraud may help reduce crime near your home, as well. Foreclosure houses may stay vacant for long periods, attracting drug users and vandals.
How can you help? Take three simple steps: “Know It. Avoid It. Report It.” Learn how to stop scammers in their tracks, and help HUD spread the word about this important campaign. Find out more today:
• Visit hud.gov/preventloanscams
• Call 1-888-995-HOPE (4763)
• Like HUD on Facebook: facebook.com/HUD
• Follow HUD on Twitter: @HUDNews
We look forward to joining with you to stamp out fraud.