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When you know your home is in foreclosure, you probably actively look for ways to stop the foreclosure. Some unscrupulous people are taking advantage of a homeowner’s desire to keep his or her home. Scammers are collecting thousands of dollars in up-front fees through a phony loan modification program in Florida.

The scammers send the homeowner a mailed loan modification, which has many of the attributes of a legitimate modification offer. The papers have the government seals, the borrower’s personal information and all the forms necessary for a modification. The modification package appears to be from Wells Fargo.

Law enforcement officials say this is the most sophisticated modification scam effort they have seen. Experts warn that it is getting easier for scammers to create authentic-looking documents.

When the documents in this phony modification packet are returned to the company, the scammers collect a variety of personal data that might lead to identity theft. Bank account numbers, Social Security numbers and other information are usually collected. Plus, the scammers collect the up-front fees remitted with the packet.

It is important for homeowners facing foreclosure to realize that if a loan modification offer is too good to be true, it likely is just that. In some cases, homeowners facing foreclosure might be able to stop the foreclosure by using other legal methods. In bankruptcy proceedings, for example, a primary residence might qualify for a homestead exemption.

Anyone who is facing foreclosure should explore the options available to keep his or her home. Understanding available bankruptcy options might help you to decide if one of those options is appropriate for your situation.

Source: Herald Tribune, “Mortgage modification scam shows growing sophistication” Josh Salman, Feb. 13, 2014