Cuomo sent 30 additional companies a cease-and-desist letter to get them to immediately end all misleading and illegal practices. With the new companies, a total of 213 companies have been put on notice.
Mortgage rescue companies target homeowners facing foreclosure and claim to be able to modify home mortgage loans and lower payments.
The investigation has revealed that many companies illegally collect up-front fees from homeowners. They often fail to help them lower their mortgage payments or save their homes from foreclosure.
Some customers find themselves in worse financial straights and more likely to lose their home after using the services of a mortgage rescue company.
The specific illegal practices include not creating written contracts detailing the exact nature of the fees and services to be provided, failing to allow homeowners to cancel their contract within five days without penalty, failure to notify customers that they can cancel their contract within five days without penalty, using false advertising practices, using false guarantees, and misleading customers to think the company is affiliated with or sponsored by the government.
Cuomo is in the midst of an ongoing investigation on the mortgage rescue industry. The investigating has been ongoing since 2009. During the course of the investigation, Cuomo has brought lawsuits against many companies, including American Modification Agency, Inc. (Amerimod), formerly one of the largest mortgage rescue companies in the nation. Cuomo also shut down two mortgage rescue companies, ABM Mitigation Corporation (ABM) and Raymond, Louis, & Fitch (RLF).
Homeowners can take step to avoid being a victim of fraud. If you are unable to make your mortgage payment, you should immediately call your lender to discuss alternatives to foreclosure. Many lenders offer programs to avoid foreclosure and have publicly pledged to assist distressed borrowers. To get foreclosure assistance or contact your mortgage lender, call 800-CALL-FHA or visit www.fha.gov.
If you decide to use a mortgage rescue company, be aware that the company must give you a contract, and in most cases, refrain from charging an up-front fee. Also, there are non-profit counselors that can help homeowners for free.
If you think you have been targeted or defrauded by a mortgage rescue company, you should contact the Attorney General's office at 800-771-7755 or online, www.nyprotectyourhome.com.