Foreclosure scams in Arizona continue to climb

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“I'm a highly educated woman who has been taken advantage of by mortgage lenders and banks.” That’s how 60-year-old Scottsdale resident Cheryl Pace started her e-mail, and it got the attention of our 3 On Your Side unit.

Like thousands in Arizona, Cheryl is in a desperate situation with her home.
 
“I’m scared to death,” she tells 3 On Your Side, “Because nobody wants to lose their home.”

Cheryl says that after getting into what she calls a bad loan, she hired a loan modification company and was told her payments were going from $1,900 dollars to $1,500 a month.  She began paying the new payment amount.  The trouble is, the bank never signed on for this deal. 

Now Cheryl finds herself in an even bigger mess and at a loss, “I just don’t know what to do” she said when 3 On Your Side met up with her at her office, “I don’t know who to turn to.”  

Across town, at 14th Street and McDowell, Patricia Garcia-Duarte, president and CEO of Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, hopes that two new borrower help centers will do just that: help. “We’re trying to help people who are victims of bogus loan modification companies and victims of scams,” Garcia-Duarte tells 3 On Your Side.
 
Neighborhood Housing Services is one of two new walk-in borrower help centers where delinquent borrowers with hardships can seek free housing help but you have to prove hardship says Garcia-Duarte. “If all they are complaining about or unhappy about is the loss of property value and about 68% of homeowners have lost value, that’s not a hardship.  Some people can continue making payments and should continue.”

For those who qualify, the goal of this new, national pilot program is holistic financial counseling, meaning they look at your entire financial picture to see what you and your family can really afford and if you legitimately qualify for a modification.
  
Garcia-Duarte says right now they are sending letters to borrowers with Freddie Mac-owned mortgages who are in financial distress and may be eligible for loan modification but never called their mortgage servicers or have stopped trying.  She also says that if homeowners qualify, they will extend help to those who do not have Freddie Mac-owned mortgages as well. Garcia Duarte expects they will be able to help at least 60 percent of the people who walk-in.

The new Neighborhood Housing Services help center is located at 1405 East McDowell Road Suite 100 in Phoenix.  For more information, call 602-258-1659.

The Chicanos Por La Causa Borrower Help Center is also located in Phoenix at 1242 East Washington, Suite 102.  For more information, call 602-253-0838.

Garcia-Duarte also warns that foreclosure scams continue to climb in Arizona.  Legislation introduced in the Senate calls for prohibiting “foreclosure consultants” from collecting any fees until they have completed all the services they promise, with the services outlined in a signed contract. 

Nevertheless, SB 1130 is still being considered.  In the meantime she says that in Arizona it is a bit of a free for all and consumers continue to fall for housing scams that costs them thousands of dollars and often their homes. The newest scams, she warns people to watch out for, is what is called the “lease back” where a person says they will bring your note current and the company will lease back to you. She recommends checking with a HUD-approved agency before signing on to any such deal.