Here are some valuable tips for consumers from my friends at the Federal Reserve. You can also download them direct here. A special thank you to Joy Hoffman of the Fed for sharing this.
1. Don’t ignore your mortgage problem.
If you are unable to pay—or haven’t paid—your mortgage,
contact your lender or the company that collects
your mortgage payment as soon as possible. Mortgage
lenders want to work with you to resolve the problem,
and you may have more options if you contact them
early. Call the phone number on your monthly mortgage
statement or payment coupon book. Explain your
financial situation and offer to work with your lender
to find the right payment solution for you. If your
lender won’t talk with you, contact a housing counseling
agency. You can find a list of counseling resources
at NeighborWorks (www. nw.org/network/home.asp)
and on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development’s (HUD) website (www.hud.gov/
offices/hsg/sfh/hcc/hccprof14.cfm) or by calling
2. Do your homework before you talk to your
lender or housing counselor.
Find your original mortgage loan documents and
review them. Review your income and budget. Gather
information on your expenses, including food, utilities,
car payment, insurance, cable, phone, and other
bills. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your
lender, contact a housing or credit counseling agency.
Counselors can help you examine your budget and
determine the options available to you. They may also
advise you about ways to work with your lender or
offer to negotiate with your lender on your behalf.
3. Know your options.
Some options provide short-term solutions/help,
while others provide long-term or permanent solutions.
You may be able to work out a temporary plan
for making up missed payments, or you may be able
to modify the loan terms. Sometimes, the best option
may be to sell the house. For information on different
options, visit HUD’s website (www.hud.gov/
foreclosure/index.cfm) or Foreclosure Resources for
foreclosure.htm) for links to local resources.
4. Stick to your plan.
Protect your credit score by making timely payments.
Prioritize bills and pay those that are most necessary,
such as your new mortgage payment. Consider cutting
optional expenses such as eating out and premium
cable TV services. If your situation changes and you
can no longer meet your new payment schedule, call
your lender or housing counselor immediately.
5. Beware of foreclosure rescue scams.
Con artists take advantage of people who have fallen
behind on their mortgage payments and who face
foreclosure. These con artists may even call themselves
“counselors.” Your mortgage lender or a legitimate
housing counselor can best help you decide which
option is best for you. For tips on spotting scam artists,
visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website, Foreclosure
Rescue Scams (www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/
credit/cre42.shtm). Report suspicious schemes
to your state and local consumer protection agencies,
which you can find on the Consumer Action Website