RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Some companies are taking advantage of people trying to modify their home mortgage loans. To find legitimate help you need to know the warning signs. 12 On Your Side has one woman's story and tips that may help you.
In this environment, people struggling to pay their mortgage, are looking for relief. Flossie Wyatt thought she found it in a company out of California.
"I called this company. They told me they work for Obama. So, I thought I had a good deal," said Flossie Wyatt.
Flossie sent money to strangers in California, persuaded by promises in print and guarantees from people she'd never met.
"Get my money back and get them," Flossie said.
She says, "Aria and Associates, Inc." said, it would reduce her monthly mortgage payment by half. But, she needed to give "Aria", the American Loan Assistance Company, $1,300 first and, get this, stop paying her mortgage.
"If you pay your mortgage company they feel that you can do it. If you don't pay it, we can work faster, and we will straighten it out, if they wouldn't sell the contract to us. We'll catch your house payment back up," said Flossie.
To check your eligibility for loan modification call your mortgage lender, and contact H.U.D. Remember these signs -- withholding mortgage payments and upfront fees should make you suspicious. It's unlikely Flossie will see a refund.
"It's a moving target, you just can't catch up with them because they change who they are frequently to stay ahead of law enforcement," said H.O.M.E. Lending Protection Coordinator Paula Sherman.
It's a tough loss, because Flossie called the Better Business Bureau to check out the company first.
"The Better Business Bureau said it was a legit company. I felt I was in good hands." Flossie said.
In fact the California company has an 'F' rating; 36 unanswered complaints, including failure to provide loan modification or refund, as promised.
"I have no idea what happened," said Tom Gallagher with the Better Business Bureau. "I feel terrible that information that she got didn't lead her to a different decision."
Gallagher says, don't just accept what the BBB says search other resources -- because more and more operations are marketing themselves, as if they're affiliated with the government.
Flossie has been waiting since November for her $1,300 refund. Meantime, Aria has not returned any of our calls, voice messages, or e-mails.