Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin is warning Rhode Island homeowners to be cautious of scams involving the recent national mortgage settlement. It has been reported that several homeowners across the country have been contacted by phone or by email by individuals claiming to have "a list" of homeowners eligible for funds from the settlement. In addition, there have been a number of complaints filed with the Consumer Protection Unit of flyers offering mortgage modification services dropped throughout Rhode Island neighborhoods, especially neighborhoods hardest hit by the housing crisis.
It has been reported that the scam artists are posing as a bank employee or settlement administrator and request bank account information in order to deposit funds into the homeowner's account. It is important to note that the five mortgage service providers involved with the national mortgage settlement have not contracted with any outside vendors to contact eligible homeowners.
"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," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "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."
Attorney General Kilmartin offers the following tips to consumers:
- Do not give your bank account information or any other personal identifying information unless you know who you are dealing with.
- Consumers should not pay anyone to participate in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency's Independent Foreclosure Review Program.
Remember these tips:
- It is illegal in Rhode Island for an individual or entity to charge an up-front fee for a mortgage modification.
- Avoid anyone who tells you to quit making your mortgage payment or to pay them instead.
- Contact a free, HUD-certified loan counselor for assistance with your mortgage. Call 888-995-HOPE for the nearest HUD-certified counselor located near you.
- Remember, only your mortgage servicer can guarantee that you will receive a mortgage modification. As part of this settlement, homeowners may be eligible for loan modifications, principal reductions or direct payments. A settlement administrator designated by the participating states will send claim forms to eligible homeowners.
In addition, The banks have set up special hotlines for borrowers to call if they have questions and to make sure their contact information is up-to-date should they be eligible for any of the settlement benefits.
- Bank of America: 1-877-488-7814
- Citibank: 1-866-272-4749
- Chase: 1-866-372-6901
- GMAC/Ally Bank: 1-800-766-4622
- Wells Fargo: 1-800-288-3212
If you believe you are a victim of consumer fraud, please contact the Consumer Protection Unit at the Department of Rhode Island Attorney General at (401) 274-4400. You can download a consumer complaint by visiting our website at www.riag.ri.gov. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.