Saturday, October 22, 2011

Cops To Homeowners: Take Caution When Responding To Roadside 'Bandit Signs' Offering Mortgage Help

In Lee County, Florida, WINK News reports:

  • Signs have been popping up around Fort Myers, promising big bucks if a company can assume your mortgage. Most of the handwritten signs read: "We pay $10,000 to take over your mortgage." At the bottom, there's a phone number to call, but no name or business listed.

  • Stacey Payne, with the Lee County Sheriff's Office Fraud Line, says the lack of information should be a red flag to homeowners. "With somebody who's saying they have a mortgage company or they're going to help you with your mortgage, there should be a business, a legitimate business tied to that phone number," Payne says.

  • While local law enforcement have not gotten any complaints about the signs, Payne says she hopes people will study up on the company and its offer before diving into anything.

  • "They should due their due diligence, due their research, Google the phone number, the name of the person, the name of the business," Payne says. That's because what the signs promise closely resembles a scam that has already been documented, she says.

  • In the foreclosure "rescue" scenario, scammers target homeowners having trouble making their mortgage payments. The scammers offer to help, then trick people into handing over much more."Individuals were signing over the deed to their home," Payne says. "It wasn't that they didn't have a mortgage -- they were no longer the owner of their home." She says that is when the new owner would send a letter demanding complete payment of the mortgage and threatening eviction.

  • WINK News found three different phone numbers on similar mortgage signs around town. All of them rang to the same voicemail. The person answering the phone declined to discuss the details of the mortgage offer, and hung up when pressed for the name of the company.

  • The Better Business Bureau was unable to find complaints tied to the phone numbers listed on the signs. However, the BBB says most mortgages cannot be transferred and usually require lender permission to do so.

Source: Deputies skeptical about roadside mortgage signs.

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