Sometimes, unplanned events -- a sudden job loss or medical expenses, for example – can impact your ability to pay the mortgage. It happens to many of us. Unfortunately, it can also leave us vulnerable to scams when looking for mortgage assistance. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself:


First, The Homeowner’s Guide to Success explains what to expect when you are late on your mortgage payments and what choices you may have. Co-created by several government agencies and bureaus, the guide also provides contact information for housing experts, such as those at GreenPath, who are trained to advise consumers on their options.


Second, know your rights. The Federal Trade Commission has a rule to protect consumers called the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) rule. It makes it illegal for a company to collect any fees until you have received a written offer for mortgage modification AND have officially accepted the offer. The FTC website has a helpful article that explains your rights.


Third, be aware of common scams when seeking a mortgage modification loan. Our partners at the Homeownership Preservation Foundation have created this list of six warning signs that you are being scammed. One involves a third party (not your current mortgage company) asking for a fee or payment ahead of time “guaranteeing” a modified loan. Another asks you to surrender the title on your home with the promise of leasing it back to you.


Remember, you have access to free, certified housing counseling. If you have questions about your mortgage or are concerned you are being scammed, call the HPF Hotline at 888-995-HOPE™ (4673)