Recently Lori and I received some VERY official looking documents (first a post-card and then a three page letter) in the mail. These documents claimed that "you may be eligible to receive a payment of at least $840 as part of a National Mortgage Settlement." The document has a State of Florida Attorney General Seal on it with Pam Bondi, Attorney State of Florida's name under the seal... all very official looking; and ALL VERY MISLEADING! One is an official document the second one was a SCAM!
The State Attorney Generals Office which provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette and other participating state Attorneys General entered into a settlement with the five leading bank mortgage servicers: Bank of America, Citi, Chase, Wells Fargo, and GMAC/Ally. Under the settlement, the servicers will spend at least $19 billion to provide different forms of consumer relief, including principal balance reductions, interest rate reductions, short sales, and deeds in lieu of foreclosure.
Florida State Attorney General- Pam Bondi
Scammers are already trying to use the national mortgage settlement to swindle consumers. The attorneys general have received reports of thieves calling borrowers claiming to be one of the major banks involved in this settlement and offering a cash payment to consumers if they simply provide the bank routing number to access their bank account. Other scams have offered to get people money under the settlement quickly if the consumer pays an up-front fee.
Remember these important points if you are contacted:
DO NOT PROVIDE PERSONAL OR FINANCIAL INFORMATION TO SOMEONE WHO CALLS OR E-MAILS YOU. Regardless of whom they claim to be, people who call or e-mail you seeking personal or financial information should be treated as potential thieves who may be trying to steal your identity. Do NOT provide people who call or e-mail you with any personal information.
HELP IS FREE. Don't pay anyone for this assistance.
The banks will be contacting consumers who are eligible for relief. To be sure it's really the bank that is calling you, consider the following
1. Does the caller identify themselves as representing your loan servicer? Or do they ask you to provide the name of your loan servicer? If they ask you for the name of your servicer, they may be a scammer.
2. Does the caller offer to provide your personal information to assist you in identifying your account? Or do they ask you to provide that? If the caller is from your loan servicer, they will be able to tell YOU your personal information because they will have it. You should never provide your personal information (including bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.) to an unsolicited caller.
3. Does the caller offer to speed your settlement relief for a fee? They are definitely a scammer! Neither the banks nor Attorney General Schuette will charge a fee to speed up payments or other relief.
4. If you think the caller may be legitimate, ask for their contact information, tell them you are going to call your bank's hotline and confirm, then call them back. Chances are if they're a scammer, they won't want you to check on them and they won't provide their contact information.
5. If you want to check with the bank, the contact information for the 5 participating banks is:
§ Ally/GMAC: 800-766-4622
§ Bank of America: 877-488-7814 (available M-F 7am - 9pm CT)
§ Citi: 866-272-474
§ JPMorgan Chase: 866-372-6901
§ Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212 (Available M-F 7 a.m. to 5)
Personally, I've read six or seven different articles this morning that I happened to Google regarding Pam Bondi (Florida's State Attorney General) and the National Mortgage Settlement. There is money out there, just PLEASE be careful (especially if they are asking you for your personal information).
At Birchell Insurance Agency, we care about our clients. If you have a question about this article or anything in general regarding insurance, just give us a call. We can be reached at 800-978-8813 or locally 407-936-1572.