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Getting Legal Advice to Stop a Foreclosure; Advice to Avoid

When threatened with foreclosure, immediately seek legal help. It is better to get this help too soon rather than too late. Free help may be available at a neighborhood legal services office (go to www.lawhelp.org to find a legal services office) or a bar association panel of pro bono attorneys. A small number of lawyers in your area may handle foreclosure defense cases for a fee and many lawyers will help you file a bankruptcy. Exercise care in hiring a lawyer. The highest priced lawyer may not be the best. Find someone you feel comfortable with, at a price you can afford. Also try to get a referral for the lawyer from someone you trust. More information about finding a lawyer can be found in Chapter 1.

Another good source of help is nonprofit foreclosure prevention counseling (sometimes called “default counseling”). Contact a local nonprofit housing organization to find out where this service is offered in your community or call 800-569-4287 (TDD 800-877-8339) or visit www.hud.gov to find a HUD-approved housing counseling agency near you.

Scams to Avoid. Some businesses offer help to people facing foreclosure in order to rip them off. A pending foreclosure of your home is public information and scam artists will find that information and then contact you. Scammers may ask for thousands of dollars, saying they are offering you a loan or have arranged a payment plan or loan modification. In reality they will do nothing. Even worse, these scammers may (even without you realizing it) have you sign your deed over to them, with a bogus option to buy it back.

If someone seeks you out to save your home, odds are the offer is bogus and will only get you deeper into debt and prevent you from taking the steps that will save your home or improve your situation. Requests for high fees or for money to pay the mortgage are another sign of a scam. An offer of a new mortgage as a way out of foreclosure will be on terrible terms and will just make your situation impossible to resolve. If you do sign a new mortgage under pressure of foreclosure, you have three business days to cancel.