McCollum Unveils Website to Help Homeowners Avoid Mortgage Fraud-Related Scams
TALLAHASSEE, FL – Attorney General Bill McCollum today unveiled a new website designed to help homeowners avoid mortgage fraud-related scams. The website, at http://myfloridalegal.com/mortgagefraud, provides consumers with easy access to current investigations, complaint forms, and tips to identify and avoid foreclosure rescue fraud. Foreclosure rescue fraud, or fraud involving loan modifications related to foreclosures, is the complaint topic most commonly reported to the Attorney General’s Office and involves the charging of an up-front fee for foreclosure rescue services before any services are provided, if they are provided at all.
“Companies and individuals are taking advantage of our homeowners in these tough economic times by preying on their financial situations,” said Attorney General McCollum. “If we can increase consumer education and empower people to spot scams and avoid them in advance, we can help decrease the number of victims targeted by this fraud.”
Consumers can obtain information about active litigation involving companies the Attorney General has taken action against and can download affidavit forms to fill out if they have been victimized by one of the companies on the list. Consumers can also access a list of investigations being conducted by the Attorney General’s Mortgage Fraud Task Force to see if a particular company is currently being scrutinized.
The website also features answers to frequently asked questions, consumer tips, and a list of warning signs that a company or an individual might be engaging in foreclosure rescue fraud. Additional resources are also available, including a link to a new Florida Bar website containing information for attorneys and consumers on legal training, housing help workshops and clinics being held in Florida, and information concerning the Florida Bar Lawyer Referral Service and qualified legal aid agencies throughout Florida.
In 2007, Attorney General McCollum initiated an agency-wide Mortgage Fraud Task Force to address the issues of mortgage and foreclosure rescue fraud. Since then, the Task Force has filed six lawsuits, has settled with seven companies, and is actively investigating more than 50 additional companies under the Foreclosure Rescue Fraud Prevention Act, which took effect October 1, 2008. The Task Force has also reviewed information pertaining to the business practices of more than 200 foreclosure rescue businesses.
Earlier this month, Attorney General McCollum called together representatives from state agencies, law enforcement groups, prosecutorial entities and the Florida Bar to address the state's mortgage fraud issues and to develop a cooperative approach on behalf of Florida’s homeowners. The group will focus on a systematic method of triaging complaints and a cooperative interagency consumer education initiative. By establishing a team approach, Florida will receive an "all hands on deck" approach to ensure no case goes unaddressed.