Spot the Scam – Freeze Mortgage Fraud

Unsolicited messages coming from email, text, or letters are becoming more prevalent as an increased amount of data and personal information is online. Mortgage scams are specifically difficult to spot because fraudsters have ways to make the messages look like they are actually coming from companies you worked with to buy your home and secure funding. It is important to be aware of the scams that occur, how scammers get your information, and warning signs to look out for to avoid these scams.

Common scams

One particular scam targets homeowners who are behind on mortgage payments and are worried about a future foreclosure. A message will be sent to a homeowner from a “mortgage consultant” promising to help them avoid foreclosure. Instead of helping, these scammers take advantage of the vulnerable and desperate owners and take their money.

Mortgage wire fraud is a common scam that sends a fraudulent message from hacked email accounts impersonating mortgage lenders or escrow officers. These messages ask the buyers to wire funds to an illegitimate account. It is easy to believe the email as it seems to be coming from your mortgage firm.

How is the information obtained?

When you apply for a loan, your banker will pull a copy of your credit report. That inquiry triggers that you are looking for new credit. The credit bureaus then sell this information (type of credit and contact information) to other companies, such as mortgage companies or credit companies. This also alerts fraudsters that you are a new homebuyer or owner. They will prey on this information in their scams.

Warning signs

There are warning signs that should prompt you to stop and review before proceeding with the request. Scammers will create a sense of urgency and use fake reasons why they won’t be able to take your phone call. Other clues include lofty advertisements that seem too good to be true and requests that require upfront fees.

Preventing these scams

Being mindful about fraudulent messages and recognize the signs of a scam. Verify the licenses of all the professionals you work with before supplying information. If you are having trouble with your mortgage payments, reach out to your loan servicer or a reputable counseling agency to discuss your options.

Wendy Hollenbeck is a mortgage banker with Security Financial Bank. The CVHBA is a free resource available to all homeowners building or remodeling a home. For more information, please call 715-835-2526 or email

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