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Stimulus Scam Traps Are Out There

Economic Stimulus Info
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Stimulus scam traps are out there so it is important to learn how to recognize predatory practices before you fall victim to one. Although there are many different types of stimulus scams, understanding the motivation behind the fraud can help identify the most common schemes. In general, most stimulus scams either try to take your money for something that should be free or attempt to steal your property by having you sign papers for services you may not fully understand. However, there are ways to protect yourself:

Use these 6 tips to avoid stimulus scams and obtain the help you need:

  1. Use a HUD approved credit counselor or other reputable financial service advisor. Visit their website to obtain a list of HUD approved Housing Counseling Agencies or by calling 1-800-FED-INFO (333-4636).
  2. Always report suspicious activity. If you suspect a stimulus scam, call the Mortgage Fraud Hotline at 1-800-4FRAUD8 (1-800-437-2838) or contact the Attorney General in your state by visiting http://www.consumerfraudreporting.org/stateattorneygenerallist.php.
  3. Make the first move. Reputable mortgage relief plans do not seek you out but require you to make the first move in order to start the process.
  1. Never sign what you don’t fully understand. Credit counselors are trained to answer questions so take your time and ask all the questions you need in order to understand how mortgage relief will help you and which plan is right for your situation. Be especially cautious before signing up for second mortgages (these are very different than refinancing the primary mortgage on your home) or signing over the deed to your property. If you aren’t sure – then don’t sign. Instead, ask more questions until you feel comfortable the course of action is best for your financial future. It is perfectly acceptable to have an attorney of your choosing review all of the documents before you sign.
  2. Always get it in writing. Make sure everything is written down and never sign a blank contract or any blank forms! Mistakes are prone to happen when there is a high volume of work. Follow up all phone calls with a written reminder and make copies for everyone involved. Real estate and mortgage transactions are often complex and time sensitive and some stimulus scam artists are counting on this confusion to accomplish their goals.
  3. Be honest. It might be tempting to make things sound better or worse than they really are but resist that urge. Instead, be open and honest with your credit counselor or loan officer. Not only will they be able to provide the help you need but it also ensure you will obtain the best advice for your specific situation.

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