Recently, the foreclosure mediation team at RSI has been thinking a lot about foreclosure scams and mortgage modification fraud. Now that we’ve launched foreclosure mediation programs in Lake, Kane and Winnebago Counties here in Illinois, we’ve been focusing on how to provide quality housing counseling and mediation services and get the word out to the public that these services exist. The problem is, it can be difficult to get our message out about the free, high-quality, court-sponsored programs we offer when homeowners in foreclosure are often bombarded with offers for foreclosure help from less than reputable sources. Foreclosure scammers are often very savvy about how to target vulnerable populations, making it difficult for the average homeowner to distinguish these offers from legitimate, government-sponsored programs. As the RSI foreclosure mediation team works with homeowners and conducts outreach, we have seen the devastating effects of these scams first-hand. We are working with the courts to provide better information to homeowners in the form of websites and brochures that offer resources about what to look out for and how to report incidents of fraud.
Last Wednesday there was an exciting development in the effort to crack down on foreclosure scams, with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission and the attorneys general of 15 states, including Illinois, suing alleged mortgage foreclosure scammers in what is being called “Operation Mis-Modification.”