The Office of Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna is warning homeowners to beware of companies promising to stop foreclosures in exchange for a hefty fee.
Complaints and calls have flooded into the AG's Consumer Protection Division and the Washington State Bar Association about foreclosure rescue offers that promise to keep owners in their homes and modify their mortgages.
The scams promise to "stop your foreclosure dead in its tracks" and even say lenders will be forced to back down and pay damages to homeowners.
"These statements are giving people false hope. They're not true," said Jim Sugarman, assant attorney general and litigation chief for the Consumer Protection Division.
The Attorney General's Office said some homeowners are so desperate they're taking the bait, unaware that free help from certified experts is already available to them via a state hotline -- 1-877-894-HOME.
"Our office has funded housing counselors to provide free housing counseling services to people who are facing foreclosure. So you should take advantage of that," Sugarman said.
Information is available on the AG's website.
The AG's office said that the sharp increase in foreclosure rescue scams may be due to recent publicity about the nationwide settlement between the federal government and 49 state attorneys general with the country's five largest loan servicers -- Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo.
Under that settlement, thousands of letters are currently going out to homeowners informing them that they may qualify for financial compensation if they lost their homes are currently facing foreclosure.
An additional resource: Washington Home Ownership Resource Center.