Beware of foreclosure rescue scams

Earlier this month, on Feb. 5, the Riverside County Board of Supervisors heard from our Government Affairs Director from SRCAR, Gene Wunderlich, who was requested to speak on behalf of the District Attorney’s office requesting to increase document transfer fees from their current $3 per document to $10.

Prior to Gene, DA Zellerbach and others presented statistics supporting the need for the increase, by citing that his eight-person real estate fraud task force team has seen reports climb from about 200 in 2007 to over 800 by 2011, doubling to more than 1,700 last year.

He also went on to say that last year his office brought 64 cases and obtained 12 convictions. They clearly have plenty of work ahead of them and could really use any additional funding.

A compromise was met that day that will raise the cost of transferring certain documents from $3 to $6 on March 5. The DA does have an option to come back and request their original amount of $10, provided they come with additional statistics.

In the meantime, people need to beware. People need to perform some level of due diligence on anyone who claims they can help save their home. Scammers make promises that they cannot keep, like guaranteeing to save your home or lower your mortgage usually for a fee, often pretending they have a direct line to your bank…which they don’t.

Here is a list of tips to avoid being scammed:

• Beware of anyone who asks for a fee, to join a membership, or sign up for anything that costs, in exchange for counseling services.

• Do not sign anything without reading and understanding it first.

• Never sign over the deed to your property to anyone or any organization for any reason.

• Never make a mortgage payment to anyone other than your mortgage company.

• Be suspicious of official looking logos and letterheads. They may look legit but under further review they may be phony.

• Beware of aggressive lawyers. Legitimate firms do not send mass mailings.

• Watch out for false promises like “Stop foreclosure now” or “We have special relationships with banks” or, my favorite, “Money back guarantee.”

If you suspect you have been scammed, please file a claim and report it. Locally, email

[email protected]

For free counseling services, visit or or call 1-888-995-HOPE (4673).

If you have questions regarding this and/or other real estate matters, contact Mike Mason, Broker/Owner of MASON Real Estate DRE: 01483044, Board of Director of your Southwest Riverside County Association of Realtors® (SRCAR), Short Sale & Foreclosure Resource certified by National Association of Realtors® (NAR) at [email protected] or (951) 296-8887.

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