Homeowners facing foreclosure and looking for help to keep their houses have no guarantee they’ll find the right people for the job. WPLN has one Middle Tennessee woman’s story.
Carol, who wouldn’t give her last name, learned in September she was on the verge of foreclosure. She works at a car-rental agency, and says payments on her subprime mortgage were manageable until her income took a hit; then she fell behind a couple of months. She mailed in two overpayments, but those were sent back because a notice of foreclosure had been filed.
Carol searched federal web sites for help, but nobody e-mailed her back. Meanwhile, companies came out of the woodwork claiming they could keep her out of foreclosure, if she paid a steep fee first.
“You know, if I had that kind of money to hand them up front, I’d be handing it to the mortgage company, you know? It became very obvious – everybody’s gonna get a finger of this pie, but nobody’s in it to help me, and I just needed somebody to go to bat for me.”
That somebody turned out to be the nonprofit Affordable Housing Resources, one of the counseling services providing help free of charge. CEO Eddie Latimer says there are some in his industry looking to exploit situations like Carol’s. He equates them to the predatory lenders blamed, in part, for the subprime debacle.
“Well that same industry is still alive and well; they’re just having to reinvent themselves. And so a lot of times they’re reinventing themselves as a parachute to the very mess they caused, and they’re no more a parachute than they were a doorway into successful home ownership.”
The state of Tennessee has already sued two companies it accuses of “foreclosure rescue” scams.
The state’s attorney general has urged those in foreclosure to contact Tennessee Housing Development Agency to find legitimate counselors.