Feds target mortgage modification scams

The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has teamed up with the Treasury Department and — this is a mouthful — the Office of the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program — to shutter mortgage modification scams.

Regulators say troubled homeowners trying to apply for the federal Home Affordable Modification Program have been tricked by companies collecting fees for false promises to lower mortgage debt or monthly payments. 

The regulators put out a consumer alert with these tips:

 —    You can apply to the Home Affordable Modification Program for free at 888-995-4673 or online.

—    Outside companies can’t modify your loans or “pre-approve” HAMP applications. Only your mortgage servicer can modify your mortgage.

—    Charging fees in advance to modify a mortgage is illegal.

—    Using an outside company doesn’t better your chances of getting a modification, no matter what these self-claimed “experts” say.

—    Look-out for companies using fake U.S. seals or logos. Again, call the number above to deal with a real HAMP representative.

—    Run, don’t walk, from companies advising you to stop paying your mortgage.  

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