Cary Jacobs (not his real name) was out of work a year when his bank's collections agency started calling to tell him that the home his family had lived in for six years was about to be foreclosed on unless he could come up with another payment. Cary never told his wife about the calls. "I've worked my whole life and paid every bill on time," he said. "I'm just two payments behind, but the bank won't talk to me."
This week, an unlikely source is coming to the rescue of people like Cary. Fannie Mae, one of the nation's two giant government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) guaranteeing mortgage lending, unveiled a new website, KnowYourOptions.com, designed to take the sting and shame out of seeking help against foreclosure.
Cary is hardly atypical. Anyone who has ever fallen behind in their mortgage has probably had at least one moment when they realized that their home could be taken away from them. Once the bank starts calling for its money, fear, shame and loneliness are natural feelings. At that moment, friends, family, banks and accountants -- and all the power of government programs to help homeowners -- seem powerless to help. Worst of all, many of the websites that say they can help are foreclosure scammers in disguise.