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While homes in foreclosure is declining (0.82% of all U.S. Homes most recent full-year data), and making 2015 the second consecutive year where the annual foreclosure rate has been below 1% of all U.S. home units – there are still people who are in distress, with more mortgage than money. And far too many of us, out of desperation, are falling victim to foreclosure scams. If you are at risk of losing your home, please be careful. If you know someone at risk - share this article with them. In too many cases, desperation is leading to desperate measures that bring on even more problems.


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Click the HUD logo to redirect and visit

the official HUD website and find out more about  how to speak with an official

HUD housing counselor.


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Click the HARP logo (Home Affordable Refinancing Program) to visit the official HARP website to find out if you qualify for lower interest rates on your mortgage.

Here are ways to protect yourself …

If you are at risk and fall behind on your mortgage payments, contact your lender - or a legitimate financial counselor - as soon as possible to help you find options for avoiding foreclosure.

Check credentials, reputation and experience of people or businesses offering foreclosure rescue services.

NEVER sign over the deed to your home without speaking to an attorney.

NEVER make payments directly to an individual. Make sure that payments are made to your lender or mortgage servicer.

Report suspicious activity to the Federal Trade Commission and to your state and local consumer protection agencies.

Before you sign anything, have the documents reviewed by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, check with your local housing and consumer protection agencies to review the documents at a low to no cost. Do not let desperation make your problem even bigger. Don't set yourself up to be a victim.

Visit the NeighborWorks America website
for resources and information on affordable housing programs.


Here's what to watch out for …

Private offers to lease-back or repurchase the mortgage. In these cases, a con will offer to pay the arrears on the mortgage and let you stay in the home by "leasing it back." Be very concerned about this type of arrangement. You could be subject to having the "lease amount" (which actually becomes rent) raised at the very least. Worst of all, the new owner (which is what they really become) can sell the home right from under you and all of the equity you formerly held will be gone.

Before you sign anything
, have the documents reviewed by an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, check with your local housing and consumer protection agencies to review the documents at a low to no cost. Do not let desperation make your problem even bigger. Don't set yourself up to be a victim.

Private Refinancing. Be very cautious about private refinancing offers - no matter how enticing with lowered interest and monthly payments. Even if the offer comes from someone you trust - such as a family member - have the terms and documents reviewed by a real estate attorney. If you do not, you could fall victim of signing over the ownership of your home. Explore refinancing with a bank or credible mortgage lender. Be sure check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure that there are no complaints filed against anyone you are considering before you sign anything.

Bankruptcy As The Only Way Out. Before taking this step, take the time to sit down in person with a credible consumer counseling agency. While keeping "the roof over your head" is important - you have to think about the long-term implications of bankruptcy. Don't be quick to brush this aside. Bankruptcy may protect your home - but it may not protect you.


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ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

To find a legitimate housing or financial counselor, contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 or (877) 483-1515

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