I walked into our home office a couple weeks ago and saw the 'message waiting' light flashing on the answering machine. I hit the play button and heard I was late on my mortgage payment and if I acted within the next few hours by calling the toll-free number and asking for Joe, I could rescue my credit score, lower my interest rate, get caught up on my payments and live happily ever-after. Then, I made the big mistake. I sheepishly approached my wife and used my meek, mild rhetorical tone of voice - you know the one where you ask the question already knowing the answer - asking, "Are we late on our mortgage?" One of the mulititude of reasons I love her is the fire in her eyes. I saw the fire flare at the question.
No, obviously, we were not late on our mortgage payment.
The scam artist behind the phone call was dialing for dollars. They were calling as many people as possible with that message, knowing, sooner or later, they would reach someone who was late with the mortgage payment. The thief would then go to work convincing the victim to pay a fee or start the process of giving their house to scam artist.
According to the U.S. Attorney General, the FBI is investigating more than 2,100 mortgage fraud cases, up almost 400 percent from five years ago. The Bureau has more than doubled the number of agents investigating mortgage scams, has created a National Mortgage Fraud Team at headquarters in Washington, and is working hand-in-hand with our partners at other agencies.
With all that said, it's good to see the feds stepping up pressure on the bad guys. It may be too-little too-late for many victims who have lost their homes, but good none-the-less.
If you get the call at your house from someone offering to save the day from late mortgage payments and certain foreclosure - hang up the phone.