Good news: homeowners that are “underwater” (aka owe more on their homes than the homes are actually worth) can now refinance their mortgages via the Home Affordable Refinance Program (aka HARP). Bad news: con-men and fraudsters are popping up to take advantage of the initial confusion.
Here are a couple of tips to help you minimize the risk of falling prey to fraudsters as you navigate your refinancing options:
- Always deal first with your lender before going to anyone else. Ask them about how to go about making the most of HARP to refinance your mortgage.
- Be especially wary when the person you’re talking to does not want you to contact your lender, lawyer or credit counselor.
- Do not pay upfront fees when they “promise” services and have yet to deliver any real results in the first place. This is especially true when they require payment in cash, cashier’s check or wire transfer.
- Never, EVER sign over the deed to your house to anyone. Do not let yourself be pressured into signing any document that you do not fully understand as well.
- Check the Better Business Bureau if the entity you are working with is indeed authentic. If you spot a scam, then this is the place to report the incident as well.