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In a tough economic time, where the real estate market across America is soft, rip-off artists are preying upon homeowners, peddling foreclosure prevention services that involve hefty fees and little if any results.

Homeowners who fall behind on their mortgage payments can find themselves fending off threats of foreclosure by the lender. Sadly, some desperate homeowners turn to companies claiming to be foreclosure prevention specialists. The so-called specialists turn out to be quick buck artists who charge excessive fees up front and accomplish little if anything. Sometimes, the homeowner finds out that the specialists have done nothing when the lender takes the homeowner into foreclosure, and the homeowner learns that the specialist has done nothing. Foreclosure assistance scams have been challenged in places like Northeast Ohio, an area with one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. A local newspaper recently broke the story on bogus foreclosure assistance firms along with tips for avoiding being swindled.

Red flags include a statement by the specialist that the homeowner should call a lawyer, and should not call the mortgage lender. This is a loud tip that the specialist is a scam. The smartest thing a homeowner can do is to communicate with the lender and explain their financial circumstances. Lenders have a variety of short term accomodations that can be requested such as forebearance, or payment restructuring, but these alternatives can only be accessed if the homeowner communicates with the lender.

Additionally, the homeowner may want to bring in a lawyer with exprience in defending foreclosures. The road to foreclosure is long and complicated; an ordinary homeowner is at a huge disadvantage if they solely look to the lender to explain the process. Spending a small amount of money on a lawyer may save the home, and a great deal of money and frustration along with it.

More importantly, if a homeowner has paid for a foreclosure prevention specialist, who proved to accomplish nothing, call a lawyer and pursue the specialist in litigation. Damages can be recovered from the non-performing specialist for refund of the fees, and in some cases, for the value of the home that was lost. Most of all, report the specialist if you were dissatisfied. Don’t allow these persons to prey upon others in a difficult economic time.

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