Scammers target distressed homeowners
Recent scam involves fraudulent requests from Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
Beware of scams, including those billed as offers to help distressed homeowners. Among other differences, for legitimate government mortgage assistance programs, you should not have to pay any up-front fees.
A recent notice is in circulation allegedly issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) regarding funds purportedly under the control of the OCC and other government entities. The letter may indicate that funds are being held by Bank of America and that the recipient will be required to pay a mandatory express service charge to have the funds released, according to the OCC. The service fee is a clue that this letter is an attempt to elicit funds from consumers and to gather personal information to be used in possible future identity theft. Learn more at OCC’s website.
It looks legitimate, but it is not. As the OCC writes in reaction to the scam, it does not participate in the transfer of funds for, or on behalf of, individuals, business enterprises, or governmental entities. The letter contains forged signatures of former OCC officials and a fictitious email address that is not associated with the OCC.
Before responding to any proposal, the recipient should try to verify that the proposal is legitimate. In responding to this latest scam, the OCC recommends that consumers:
- Contact state or local law enforcement.
- File a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov if the proposal appears to be fraudulent and was received via e-mail or the Internet.
- File a complaint with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service by telephone at (888) 877 7644; by mail at U.S. Postal Inspection Service, 222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250, Chicago, IL 60606-6100; or via the online complaint form at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov/forms/MailFraudComplaint.aspx, if the proposal appears to be fraudulent and was delivered through the U.S. Postal Service.
To learn more about avoiding mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue scams, go to the OCC website.
Michigan State University Extension has representatives in and around Macomb, Washtenaw, Lapeer and Ionia counties who serve as housing counselors who you can talk to for free. You can also find a housing counselor through Michigan Housing Development Authority’s Homeownership Counseling Program.