If You Get This Message About Your Mortgage, Contact Authorities, FBI Says
It may seem legitimate, but it could mean you're handing your information—and money—to scammers.
Your home isn't just the place you rest your head at night: it's where you gather with friends, where you keep your most prized possessions, and quite possibly the most expensive investment you'll ever make.
That's why it may seem appealing when you stumble upon a means of lowering your monthly mortgage payments. However, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says that if you get one particular message about your mortgage, it's likely a scam—and one that could cost you thousands, if you're not careful. Read on to find out how to spot the scam and what to do if you think you've been targeted.
If you get a message promising a mortgage with no down payment, don't fall for it.
Reverse mortgages, or home equity conversion mortgages, have become increasingly popular in recent years—and they've become a fruitful tool for scammers, too.
The FBI warns that people shouldn't reply to unsolicited messages offering reverse mortgages and to "be suspicious of anyone claiming that you can own a home with no down payment."
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There are multiple reverse mortgage scams out there.
According to Rocket Mortgage, there are multiple forms of reverse mortgage fraud.
These scams often come in the form of people promising to get your home out of foreclosure by getting a reverse mortgage without actually delivering a new contract; having your home appraised for a high amount, asking you to apply for a reverse mortgage, and then closing the loan and stealing the proceeds; or asking you to apply for a reverse mortgage to buy investment property, only to deliver a sub-par home on which you've paid significant money to a contractor or supposed mortgage broker.
There are certain red flags that can tip you off to the scam.
While there are legitimate reverse mortgages to be had—although financial experts have differing opinions on whether or not they're a good idea—there are certain red flags that can tip you off to one that's a scam.
Freddie Mac says that if someone asks you to pay a fee to them to modify or refinance your mortgage, promises to be able to put a foreclosure on hold or secure a loan modification, asks you to pay them rather than your mortgage lender, asks you to sign paperwork that you're not allowed to read or sign your home's title over to them, asks you to provide personal information via phone, or promises "government-approved" or "official government" loan modifications that don't come from your existing mortgage lender, you're likely dealing with a scam.
If you've received these messages, contact the FBI.
If you think you've been the victim of a reverse mortgage scam or business email compromise scam, it's important that you report the crime to the FBI.
Business compromise scams or reverse mortgage scams can be reported to your local FBI field office; the former can also be reported to the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the latter can also be reported via the FBI's Electronic Tip Line.