Thursday, April 10, 2008

No Easy Way Out for Seniors

In the midst of our struggling economy and whirlwind of home foreclosures, disturbing predatory practices continue to thrive. Opportunistic and suspect characters are already swindling hard working older Americans out of their opportunity to achieve economic security through homeownership!

According to the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), there are at least three “foreclosure scams” in play today with our seniors as the number one target - Phantom Help, False Bailouts, and Bait-And-Switch. Each of these practices preys upon seniors teetering on economic insecurity and quickly running low on funds and resources. These lopsided strategies often result in older Americans incurring additional debt and/or having to surrender their most important facet of economic security - their homes.

Thankfully policymakers are taking the time to look at the issue specifically from the perspective of seniors. Recently a hearing was held about the impact of foreclosures on the elderly by the Senate Special Committee on Aging. It was chaired by Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI). It seems foreclosure scammers hone in on elders because in comparison to others they have larger equity on their properties. Although, as the title of this blog suggests, there is no easy way out of foreclosure troubles there are appropriate steps that can be taken and help is available. NCLC suggests the following strategies:

[]Get Legal Advice Immediately;
[]Apply for Income Maintenance, Tax Abatement and Public Assistance Programs;
[]Negotiate with the Mortgage Company or Servicer;
[]Refinance the Home Debt;
[]Consider Selling the House Before Foreclosure; and
[]Consider Filing Bankruptcy.

Most importantly advocates and service providers must inform seniors of these predatory practices and steer them clear of the landmine that they are. As the Elder Economic Security Standard Index demonstrates, assets such as homes are extremely critical to an elder’s economic security. Even so, if an elder must return to renter status by selling their home free and clear, that can be a better alternative to getting caught in the web of these foreclosure scams.

Comments Please: Has someone in your family been approached by a suspect individual suggesting they can "save" them from the housing crisis by entering into a new contract with them?


Anonymous said...

Most importantly though, get legal help before you sign anything else, and demand all the loan documents from the lender. If they seem like they're hiding something, they probably are. Also, remember they can't foreclose unless they can present an original signed copy of the note. You will be surprised how many shady activities come to the surface when you start asking questions. My docs had more than 10 forgeries!

Anonymous said...

I do not have anyone personally who has been defrauded. However, another area that is beginning to heat up is the Reverse Mortgage industry. More and more there are advertisements and mailings citing the 'easy' way to get funds out of your housing asset. Most of these approaches are not addressing both the very high costs associated with reverse mortgages and the fact that taking large sums can prevent seniors from receiving other benefits to which they are entitle. Much more education is required to assist seniors.