The Federal Trade Commission warns mortgage borrowers to beware of scams that prey upon homeowners in trouble during the coronavirus outbreak.
The FTC Chairman, Joe Simons, was quoted in an FTC press release advising borrowers about the FTC’s role in prosecuting scam artists taking advantage of Americans who have been affected by COVID-19.
“The FTC is ready to assist businesses that may seek guidance about compliance obligations on consumer protection issues during this unprecedented time,” Simons said in the press release.
If you have been contacted by a third party about coronavirus financial relief and suspect a scam artist at work, report coronavirus-related scams at ftc.gov/complaint.
What should consumers do to protect themselves from coronavirus mortgage scams?
The first step is simply to recognize that if you have not initiated contact with the third party, you should not respond. If you are in trouble with your mortgage and need assistance, reach out directly to your loan servicer and do not reply to unsolicited contact.
The Federal Trade Commission has some advice for borrowers on how to deal with such third party contacts. One such piece of advice?
Don’t respond to contact about federal bailout programs that are still being worked out; you cannot apply for a federal economic stimulus plan that is still under consideration by the House and Senate. Only measures that have been approved and signed into law can be applied for.
Some economic stimulus does not require an act of Congress to pass, but you should always beware of third-party contacts you did not initiate.
What else does the FTC advise for borrowers who want to protect themselves against mortgage scams and other types of economic relief or other coronavirus-related fraud?
- Never respond to texts, emails or calls about checks from the government.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations.
- Ignore online offers for home test kits.
- Hang up on all robocalls. Especially for work-from-home or health insurance offers.
- Beware of unsolicited emails claiming to be from the CDC or WHO.
- Do not click on links or otherwise respond to sources you do not know.
- Do not respond to calls for donations of gift cards, wire transfers, or other common scam-artist-preferred payment gateways.
Remember, unsolicited contact should always be viewed with extreme suspicion. Don’t click on the links provided in a text message, social media post, email, etc.
Instead, go to the official website of any agency supposedly represented in the unrequested third-party email. People who contact you out of the blue offering you money, mortgage relief, or other “help” should be viewed with extreme caution.