Avoiding Mortgage Assistance Scams
Monetary scams are not new. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous people who may try to trick you into thinking they can help you apply for mortgage assistance for a fee, or help you with your mortgage payments. Usually charging an upfront fee, mortgage rescue scammers may falsely tell you they can help modify your loan or provide other relief to avoid foreclosure. A foreclosure “rescue” scam could cost you your home so being cautious, doing your homework and being informed is your first line of defense.
If you are approached with an offer of assistance (either by phone, by mail or in electronic communication), call a HUD-approved housing counselor and/or your Mortgage Lender/Servicer to ask about the offer before making any commitment.
Protect yourself from becoming a victim. If you have applied for Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance it's important to understand the parameters of this program:
- Eligible applicants registered in the Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance system at AlaskaHousingRelief.org will receive a unique identification number, which will allow you to track your status.
- Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance is provided free of charge and administered by Alaska Housing Finance Corporation. There is no cost to apply and no fees are associated with this Congressionally approved and federally funded program.
- Financial assistance provided through Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance is in the form of a grant paid directly to the applicants' mortgage servicer, utility or condo association or other approved payee.
- Do not feel pressured to act. Potential scammers often use urgency to manipulate you into making irrational decisions. When in doubt, contact your Mortgage Servicer through a trusted form of communication. Your monthly mortgage statement is a good place to look for contact information.
- Once you have submitted your application, an AHFC Homeowner Assistance Specialist is available to help you throughout the process.
Be Aware of Scam Tactics
Scammers may ask you to pay only by cashier’s check or wire transfer, which makes it extremely difficult to get your money back.
- Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance representatives will never ask for a cashier’s check or wire transfer.
Scammers may pose as housing counselors, lawyers, or members of the government, and say that they will handle all the details of a deal with your lender to lower your mortgage payments or save your home from foreclosure.
- Eligible participants in Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance will be provided a unique identification number, which allows you to check the status of your eligibility and the status of the overall process.
- Additional resources are available via HUD-certified counselors, who are funded by the government and offer their services free of charge.
Scammers will tell you not to contact your lender, lawyer, housing counselor, or credit counselor.
- Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance is a cooperative program working directly with your Mortgage Lender/Servicer to assist eligible homeowners.
Scammers may ask you to make your mortgage payments directly to them, rather than your Mortgage Lender/Servicer.
- Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance representatives will work directly with your Mortgage Servicer, utility company, energy service provider, etc.; payments are made directly to these entities on behalf of eligible Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance applicants.
Scammers May Also:
- Promise to get you a loan modification
- Ask you to call a phone number and input personal information
- Solicit you by mail
- Ask you to sign papers you do not understand
- Tell you to start making payments to someone other than your Mortgage Lender/Servicer
- Tell you to stop making mortgage loan payments entirely
- Try to charge you for services you can easily do for yourself
Help Deter Fraud and Abuse
If anyone has made any of these requests or claims, you can:
- Report any suspicions of fraud or abuse to AHFC here.
- Report the activity by submitting a complaint with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau online or by calling (855)-411-CFPB.
If you suspect illegal activity:
- Report it to Treasury OIG’s Investigation Service.
- If you receive a scam in the mail, contact the US Postal Inspection Service to report it.
Working together is the best way to stop those who seek to take advantage of pandemic relief funds and ensure the funding is used as intended — helping Alaskans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Visit AlaskaHousingRelief.org for more information about Alaska Housing Homeowner Assistance and other resources for homeowners.
Editor's Note: Updated on March 3, 2023 with additional information on ways scammers may contact individuals and things they may ask them to do.