3 Tips to Avoid Foreclosure Rescue Scams

Foreclosure rescue scams are scams that purport to help you get out of foreclosure. Unfortunately, the prospect of losing one's home can make even the most skeptical individuals vulnerable to manipulation. If someone offers you a way out of the foreclosure, one can hardly blame you for being tempted. But you should not throw caution to the wind. If you do, you will wind up suffering loses that would make your foreclosure seem paltry by comparison.

Be Wary of Unsolicited Mail

Oftentimes, the perpetrators of foreclosure rescue scams don't wait for you to come to them--they come to you. They look for potential victims by sifting through public foreclosure notices in the newspapers and on the Internet or by checking public records in local government offices. Once they find your name, they will send you a personalized letter. In it, they will tell you that they will help you get out of foreclosure, but they won't be specific about how they intend to accomplish that. The scam artists hope that you will be curious enough (or desperate enough) to respond.

This vagueness is a sign that you should not trust the writers of that letter. Instead, you should forward the letter to your state attorney general. This way, the attorney general will have more evidence to prosecute the scam artists, making it that much less likely that they will be able to take advantage of anyone else.

Be Skeptical about Advertisements

Some scam artists take a slightly different tact. Instead of looking up potential victims individually, they try to reach as many potential victims as possible. They put out advertisements in newspapers and on the Internet, plaster the advertisements on walls, bus shelters and other street structures, bulletin boards, etc. As with personalized letters, these ads will make broad claims and big promises in hopes of catching your attention.

When it comes to advertisements, it is important to remember that just because the advertising venue is legitimate doesn't mean that the same goes for all the advertisements it contains. Even major, highly respected periodicals can contain dubious ads.

If you have any doubt about the truthfulness of the ads, look up the company mentioned in the advertisement at the Better Business Bureau's official website. You can also look up the company name on your search engine of choice. For best results, add the words "scam" and/or "complaints" to the company name when you look it up.

Don't Give in to High-Pressure Tactics

If the scam artists do manage to get in touch with you, they will try to get you to agree to their scam before you have had time to think it over. They will use high-pressure tactics, insisting that if you don't agree to it now, no one will be able to get rid of your foreclosure. They will urge you to sign paperwork without giving you adequate time to look it over or to run it by your attorney. If you express any doubts, they will brush them aside. If you show any sign of hesitation, they will continue pressing their point in hopes that the pressure will get to you and you will relent.

If this happens to you, cut off contact with the scam artists immediately. Don't agree to anything, don't sign anything and don't give them any opportunity to pressure you further. In the worst-case scenario, they may become belligerent, but if that happens, you have every right to call the police. Report the scam artist to your state attorney and/or to the Federal Trade Commission.