Jackson woman loses home trying to modify her mortgage | News
JACKSON, MS (WLBT)- Times are tough, people are losing jobs, their homes. As our investigation turned up, some illegal firms are being accused of contributing to the downward spiral of despair.
We talked to Jackson woman trying to get a modified mortgage payment. It was a costly mistake. A handful of paperwork is about all Ruthie Bilal has left. The home she has lived in since March 1997 is in foreclosure. August she's out on the street. "I don't know what I'm going to do at this point."
In 2011 she was 2 months behind on her mortgage note, a flyer from California based Home Step Solutions came with her bill. It offered a glimmer of hope. She applied and sent $1500.00. Ruthie said "These folks cover their tracks so good even I thought they were legitimate."
The company suggested she not pay her mortgage while they worked out lower payments. She never received legal documentation, only communication was by phone and email. "That's what Home Step tells you. Don't pay because you are going to get a modification." Ironically Ruthie is in the business of helping others find grants or assistance to purchase homes, and she was conned.
Apparently one of many nationwide that fell victim to this illegal operation. According to this south Jackson homeowner, "There are other people who have went through these people and lost their house and way more money than I have."
Bank of America has turned down her foreclosure appeals.
Our investigation turned up a disturbing sign. The Los Angeles Better Business Bureau gave Home Step Solutions it an F and issued a warning. So we called. The answering service said,
This was posted on the BBB website when we searched for the business: http://www.la.bbb.org/business-reviews/Loan-Modifications/Home-Step-Solutions-in-Los-Angeles-CA-100109475
Effective October, 2009 in California, it is illegal to collect any fees, regardless of the form, for negotiating or attempting to negotiate a loan modification for a residential mortgage. All modification services must be fully completed before any money can be collected. It is also illegal to divide fees or services into components for the purpose of avoiding this law.
HUD approved housing counseling agencies are exempt from this law.
"Due to a new state regulation, Home Step Solutions can no longer operate."
The company has been shutdown by California authorities. Like many of her clients, Ruthie is no longer a card carrying member of the American dream. She urges anyone seeking a mortgage modification to be very wary of who they do business with. She reported her troubles to California authorities and is filing a complaint with the Mississippi Attorney General.
For more on loan scam warning: Scams aren't always easy to spot – but it helps if you know the warning signs to look for and you can find more information at http://www.loanscamalert.org/default.aspx