Reporting loan modification scams gets easier

loan modification helpLoan modification scams just won't go away, with new reports daily. But now a coalition of nonprofits has come together to make it easier to report the scams to authorities via a new electronic form.

The form adds to an already robust effort by one of the partners, NeighborWorks -- detailed previously by WalletPop -- to get the word out via multiple channels, ranging from a toll-free number, 1-888-995-HOPE, to tip sheets community organizations can print and hand out.

The site offers a helpful list of scammers, and those already charged, in its state-by-state breakdown. California's list is particularly robust, with 33 "alleged scammers," 11 people against whom the attorney general has filed charges, a long list of businesses facing civil penalties, and more that two dozen attorneys whose loan modification practices have been reported to the state bar.

But the most educational part of the site continues to be it's "real stories" section, pulled with permission from the group's growing database, which offers a vivid primer in the many ways bottom feeders have continued to survive in the economic downturn -- you know, the one they helped create.

Among those currently featured is a retired cop who spent $3,000 to get a loan modification but only got a phone call to his lender, which went nowhere, and an Arizona construction worker who paid a $1,500 advance fee to a company that promised to drop his mortgage payments by at least $400 a month, only to find its phone disconnected when he tried to pursue the modification.

Such stories make the 8,000 loan modification and other foreclosure rescue scams reports received by the federal government in 2009 seem implausibly low. Perhaps the ease of the new form will boost those numbers.
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