As a potential homeowner, getting a mortgage loan is likely the biggest financial decision you will make in your life. Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous individuals and organizations that take advantage of unsuspecting homebuyers. Mortgage scams are becoming increasingly common, and they can leave victims with significant financial losses and long-term damage to their credit score. In this article, we will provide you with some tips for protecting yourself from fraudulent lenders and avoiding mortgage scams.
- Do Your Research
Before applying for a mortgage, it is crucial to research potential lenders thoroughly. Check the lender’s reputation online by reading reviews from other customers. You can also check with the Better Business Bureau and state regulators to see if the lender has any complaints or violations on record. Researching your options will help you make an informed decision and avoid working with a fraudulent lender.
2. Beware of Unsolicited Offers
If you receive an unsolicited offer for a mortgage, be wary. Legitimate lenders typically do not contact potential borrowers without their consent. If you receive an offer in the mail, by phone, or by email, make sure to research the lender before providing any personal information.
3. Don’t Be Pressured
Fraudulent lenders often pressure potential borrowers to act quickly or make a decision without taking the time to review the terms and conditions carefully. Don’t be rushed into signing any documents or providing personal information. Take the time to review all documents and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Legitimate lenders will be happy to provide you with the information you need to make an informed decision.
4. Don’t Pay Upfront Fees
If a lender asks you to pay upfront fees for a mortgage application, be suspicious. Legitimate lenders typically do not require upfront fees, and any fees they do charge are usually paid at closing. If a lender asks for payment before providing any services, it is likely a scam.
5. Watch for Red Flags
There are several red flags that can indicate a fraudulent lender. Some of these include:
- Guaranteed approval: No legitimate lender can guarantee approval for a mortgage loan.
- Pressure to sign: As mentioned earlier, fraudulent lenders often pressure borrowers to sign documents quickly.
- Payment in unusual ways: Fraudulent lenders may ask for payment in unusual ways, such as wire transfer or gift cards.
- Requests for personal information: Be wary of lenders that request personal information such as your Social Security number or bank account information without a legitimate reason.
- Get a Second Opinion
If something seems too good to be true or you are unsure about a lender, it is always a good idea to get a second opinion. Consult with a financial advisor, attorney, or trusted friend or family member before signing any documents or providing personal information.
2. Report Suspicious Activity
If you suspect that you have been the victim of a mortgage scam, report it immediately. Contact your state regulator, the Better Business Bureau, or the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint. Reporting suspicious activity can help prevent others from becoming victims of mortgage scams.
In conclusion, protecting yourself from mortgage scams is crucial when buying a home. By doing your research, being wary of unsolicited offers, not being pressured, not paying upfront fees, watching for red flags, getting a second opinion, and reporting suspicious activity, you can avoid falling prey to fraudulent lenders. Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.