Outreach and Education Efforts

OCC Consumer Tips for Avoiding Mortgage Modification Scams and Foreclosure Rescue Scams



This Consumer Advisory, issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), describes common scams, suggests ways to protect yourself, provides information on U.S. government loan programs and counseling resources, and lists 10 warning signs of a mortgage modification scam.



888-995-HOPE

The Homeownership Preservation Foundation (HPF) is a nonprofit organization working with local governments, nonprofit organizations, borrowers and lenders to help families overcome obstacles that could result in the loss of their homes.

HPF operates the national 888-995-HOPE - the Homeowner's HOPE Hotline - to help individuals and families who are struggling financially. The hotline is available 24 hours/7 days a week and connects callers with English and Spanish speaking counselors from five nonprofit agencies (Auriton Solutions; Consumer Credit Counseling Services (CCCS) of Atlanta, CCS of San Francisco, Novadebt, Springboard Nonprofit Consumer Credit Management; and Money Management International.

Many federal and state foreclosure initiatives are tied to the HOPE Hotline as a first point of contact for homeowners.

Hope Now Alliance

HOPE NOW is a national voluntary alliance of members of the mortgage industry and counseling agencies. It was formed in October 2007 at the urging of the federal government (Treasury and HUD). Members include mortgage servicers, investors, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and industry groups such as the Mortgage Bankers Association, and counseling agencies including NeighborWorks. Currently, their servicer members cover 94% of the subprime market. Their members are also beginning a new loan modification program. For more information about HOPE NOW, click here (insert link to info on National Initiatives page).

Mass.Gov Website for Homeowners

The Patrick Administration created the website, www.mass.gov/foreclosures, as a resource for homeowners struggling with foreclosure. Visit this website to learn about initiatives happening around Massachusetts for homeowners, tenants, counselors and others. This website also includes a list of counseling agencies across the state.

IRS – Tax Forgiveness on Debt Relief for Homeowners

Under a new federal law enacted on December 12, 2007, homeowners whose mortgage debt is partly or entirely forgiven through a modification or foreclosure in 2007, 2008 or 2009, can exclude the forgiven amount (up to $1 or $2 million) from their taxable income (previously, it was treated as taxable income). The exclusion only applies to debt secured by the owner's residence; debt on rental properties does not qualify. In the case of refinancing loans, the exclusion is limited to the amount of the old mortgage principle just before the refinancing. The IRS has created a new form (Form 982) that taxpayers must file to claim this relief. Because the law was only enacted recently, it is not included in current tax preparation software. The IRS will be able to accept electronic filings of returns that include Form 982 starting March 3. Details and the form are available online at www.irs.gov/irs/article/0,,id=179073,00.html.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Boston's www.theinformedhomebuyer.org

In an effort to assist homeowners facing this challenge the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has developed a new brochure, You May Be Paying Too Much For Your Mortgage, and a website www.theinformedhomebuyer.org .

The brochure is designed to help homeowners consider important questions and evaluate other mortgage products, such as FHA loans, that could lower their monthly mortgage payments. The website www.theinformedhomebuyer.org is a helpful information center homeowners can use to learn about foreclosure education resources, foreclosure prevention counseling and collaborations such as the Mortgage Relief Fund that could help some homeowners refinance into affordable fixed-rate mortgages.

Home Loan Learning Center Foreclosure Resource

HomeLoanLearningCenter, powered by the Mortgage Bankers Association, is committed to empowering the consumer to make informed financial decisions through access to financial education.

MERS FOR HOMEOWNERS

MERS FOR HOMEOWNERS is an online resource designed to help homeowners identify the mortgage company handling their mortgage loan. This section of the MERS website is specifically designed to help consumers identify the mortgage company that handles their mortgage loan through two vehicles: the web-based MERS® Servicer ID and the phone-based MERS Servicer Identification System (888-679-6377). In addition, the site provides information about the responsibilities of the mortgage company that services mortgage loans and what homeowners should know about the servicing process.

Before calling the Servicer Identification System or accessing MERS® Servicer ID online, homeowners must have the following information ready: the mortgage loan's Mortgage Identification Number (MIN); or the borrower's name and social security number; or the property address.

CITI's Office of Homeownership Preservation

Citi's Office of Homeownership Preservation is dedicated to helping keep people in their homes. We understand that foreclosures affect individuals, families and communities.



The website is intended to provide information, resources and contact information for homeowners, particularly those who are at risk of foreclosure, and for homeownership counselors. Please peruse the site for information, advice, forms, instructional videos and more.