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CBS4 Viewer Has Warning About Stopping Mortgage Payments

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CBS4's Jodi Brooks talks with homeowner Carol McDonald (credit: CBS)

CBS4’s Jodi Brooks talks with homeowner Carol McDonald (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – With so many homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments, people keep hearing now is the time to take action, but it has to be the right action. CBS4 consumer investigator Jodi Brooks took a look at the options available.

For 28 years the McDonalds have lived in their home, but now they are underwater. Carol McDonald said her lender won’t do a loan modification. She said she recently got a call from a man from a company called “Making Home Affordable USA” offering her help.

“He said to stop paying our mortgage,” McDonald said. “Then I say, ‘What about the credit rating? That’s going to destroy it.’ “

Her instinct was right.

“Unfortunately that’s a scam that has been played out many years ago and we hadn’t heard about it for a long while and unfortunately it seems to be resurfacing,” said Shannon Peers, Director of Housing Counseling at Brothers Redevelopment.

“I went to look online. It looks legit,” McDonald said.

The website is MakingHomeAffordableUSA.com, but its site and name looks and sounds a lot like a federal housing program called MakingHomeAffordable.gov.

“A lot of companies that are looking to take advantage of homeowners in a bad position usually title their company name after federal or government programs,” Peers said.

The Better Business Bureau gives Making Home Affordable USA an “F” rating.

Brooks contacted the loan officer that called McDonald by phone and asked him if the program is legitimate.

“Yes, ma’am,” Jake Beach with Making Home Affordable USA told Brooks.

Brooks asked Beach if they ask people to stop paying their mortgage.

“That’s what we do when they go through the modification process, yes,” he replied.

“That is a number one no-no,” Peers said. “Never stop making your mortgage payment if you have the ability to do so, no matter what somebody is telling you.”

“It is very tempting but I’m glad I took a breath,” McDonald said.

It is illegal in Colorado to collect fees for a loan modification before the deal is completed. If the loan officer can’t or won’t meet face to face, consider that a red flag. Use local free resources like the Colorado Foreclsoure Hotline, the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA), or the attorney general’s office.

The McDonalds are meeting with a counselor at the Foreclosure Hotline Thursday.

Since its October 11, 2006 establishment, the Colorado Foreclosure Hotline has received more than 100,000 calls and assisted more than four out of five homeowners reach a positive resolution. You can reach the hotline at (877) 601-HOPE.

LINKS: coloradoforeclosurehotline.org  |  DORA

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