I posted this blog on ActiveRain in October of 2006.
With Mortgage Fraud eroding today's real estate world like locust devouring a jungle, these words bear repeating today.
Fixing the System
(ActiveRain, October 2006) "Con artists will always find ways to exploit vulnerabilities in the system, but the system can fight back. My BLOG FLIPPINGFRENZY.COM reveals how everyone involved in real estate--from buyers and sellers to real estate professionals to law enforcement officers and regulators, all the way up to government officials--can work together to close the loopholes and make the system less vulnerable to fraud. By being honest and vigilant and by advocating for positive change at all levels, we can crowd out the con artists, making it nearly impossible for them to operate."
The information presented here should be considered a starting point and we encourage everyone to fully research any information you are seeking. If any reader feels they need a better understanding of their personal situation, feel free to contact me with a comment below this article.
Report Mortgage Fraud, Mortgage Scams and Predatory Lending
When homeowners or borrowers suspect they may be a victim of a Con-Artist’s work, they have many legal resources available to help them. Potential victims need to report mortgage fraud, mortgage scams, or predatory lending practices as soon as there is an indication these might exist. Waiting to make sure can be costly. Both on the national level and on the state level, government and private organizations are available to answer questions and provide help.
A quick ‘rule-of-thumb’ on who to contact:
If you suspect you are a victim of mortgage fraud, contact the local FBI office; if you suspect or need to report predatory lending practices or other abusive-types of lending, contact your state Attorney General’s office; if you suspect or need to report mortgage scams by a real estate broker or appraiser, contact the state’s real estate licensing board or appraisal licensing board. The Better Business Bureau is also an excellent resource if you think you are a victim of fraud. These and many other sources of help are listed below.
National Resources for Reporting Mortgage Fraud and Scams
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
(202) 324-3000 – National FBI Financial Institution Fraud Unit
The FBI, a branch of the United States Department of Justice, is authorized to investigate and enforce criminal laws of the U.S. The FBI investigates criminal acts involving potential violations of the United States Federal Criminal Code. State authorities investigate criminal acts which are violations of their state’s criminal laws.
In conjunction with the ‘White Collar Crime’ department, the FBI investigates mortgage fraud, which often involves many professionals working in collusion: bank loan officers, realtors, appraisers, accountants, and mortgage brokers. All of these profit through various commissions, fictitious sales and fees – often on loans that aren’t genuine.
To report mortgage fraud with the FBI, contact the Field Division listed under each state.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
http://www.ftc.gov/ and www.consumer.gov/idtheft and
To file complaint
Consumer Response Center
600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington DC 20580
Toll Free Phone: (877) 438-4338 – Identity Theft Clearinghouse
Consumer Response Center: (877) 382-4357
While the Federal Trade Commission does not actually resolve an individual consumer’s problem, it does investigate mortgage fraud with the aim of leading to law enforcement action. The FTC is especially active regarding homeowner and mortgage ‘identity theft.’
In addition to reporting mortgage fraud and scams to other appropriate agencies, filing with the FTC helps put the Con-Artists out of business.
To report fraud or register a complaint about a national bank, contact
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC)
Comptroller of the Currency
Midwestern District Office
2345 Grand Avenue, Suite 700
Kansas City, MO, 64108-2683
Phone: (800) 613-6743
The OCC charters, regulates and supervises over 2,500 national banks.
Federal Savings and Loan Associations
To report fraud or register a complaint about a federal savings and loan association, contact
Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)
1700 G Street NW
Washington, D.C. 20552
Phone: (202) 906-6000
Phone: (800) 842-6929 – for consumer complaints
The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury, regulates all federally chartered and some state-chartered thrift institutions. This includes savings and loan associations and savings banks. The OTS has regional offices in all states, divided into four regions. To report mortgage fraud or mortgage scams that pertain to a savings & loan association or savings bank, see the contact information listed under each state.
Federal and State Chartered Credit Unions
National Credit Union Association (NCUA)
4807 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 5200
Austin, TX 78759-8490
Phone: (512) 349-4500
The NCUA can handle complaints concerning a federally chartered credit union and all credit unions chartered in Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming or Washington, DC. Complaints are handled by one of the five Regional Offices located in Albany, NY: Tempe, AZ” Alexandria, VA: Austin, TX; and Atlanta, GA. To report mortgage fraud or mortgage scams that pertain to a federal credit union, see the contact information listed under each state.
State Chartered Credit Unions
Each state supervises the Credit Unions that it charters, except for Delaware, South Dakota, Wyoming or Washington, DC. To report mortgage fraud or mortgage scams that pertain to a state credit union, see the contact information listed under each state.
The National Association of Attorneys General
750 First Street, NE, Suite 1100
Washington, DC 20002
Phone: (202) 326-6000
Fax: (202) 408-7014
The role of the Attorney General in each state is to protect and serve the citizens. The office of the Attorney General provides legal representation for the State and its various agencies, in behalf of the public interest. However, the Attorney General’s Office may not perform legal advice for consumers or represent them. These offices do want you to report mortgage fraud, predatory lending practices, and mortgage scams to them. Almost all Attorney General Offices provide consumer complaint forms on their web sites to make reporting mortgage scams and fraud easier. These offices are seriously dedicated to assisting the citizens of the state. The National Attorneys General Office consolidates the individual state’s actions against predatory mortgage lending practices.
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC)
The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) publishes literature on various victim situations, such as identity theft. An “Attorney General Guidelines for Victim and Witness Assistance” can be obtained online, along with information on federal grant programs to obtain financial assistance if you are a crime victim. (http://www.ojp.gov/ovc/publications/welcome.html#m)
The Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Council of Better Business Bureaus
4200 Wilson Blvd, Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1838
The Better Business Bureau (BBB), a system of over 120 independent, local Better Business Bureaus, aims at resolving complaints and keeping the public informed. For best results it is best to contact your local Better Business Bureau, rather than the National Office. However, the National Office is still available to help you. Local contacts can be found listed under the state.
Federal Reserve Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System
20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
National Consumers League (NCL)
1701 K Street, NW, Suite 1200
Washington DC 20006.
Phone: (202) 835-3323
Fax: (202) 835-0747
National Fraud Information Center
The National Fraud Information Center is a project of the National Consumers League. It focuses mainly on fraud against the <em>elderly</em>, and internet and telemarketing fraud – all sources of mortgage fraud and mortgage scams.
Center for Responsible Lending
302 West Main Street
Durham, NC 27701
Phone: (919) 313-8500
Fax: (919) 313-8595
910 – 17th Street NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20006
Phone: (202) 349-1850
Fax: (202) 289-9009
Predatory Lending & Victim Referral Services:
Phone: (919) 313-8523
Mortgage Bankers Association
Phone: (800) 348-3931 to report abuse
1919 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20006-3438
Phone: (202) 557-2700
National Association of Mortgage Brokers
8201 Greensboro Drive, Ste. 300
McLean, VA 22102
Phone: (703) 610-9009
Fax: (703) 610-9005
Contact them to report suspicious activity of a Mortgage Broker
National Association of Realtors
430 North Michigan Avenue,
Chicago, IL. 60611-4087
500 New Jersey Avenue, NW,
Washington, DC 20001-2020
Phone: (800) 874-6500
Contact them to report suspicious activity of a Realtor.
U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
Office of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs
Director, Interstate land Sales/RESPA Division
451 7th Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20410
Phone: (202) 708-4560
National Hotline: (800) 347-3735
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA)
1212 New York Avenue, NW Ste 525
Washington, DC 2005
Phone: (202) 898-1661
Fax: (202) 371-9744
The NFHA, a consortium consisting of over 120 private, non-profit fair housing organizations, and state/local civil rights groups, helps provide equal access to mortgage loans. The NFHA welcomes phone calls on “how to avoid predatory lenders.”
Their #1 rule is to keep in mind that “Two against one can be quite intimidating when someone is being pressured into signing a loan. Make sure you always have someone else with you who is knowledgeable about financing.”
When using an arbitration service, one can also have an attorney represent them.
The major arbitration administrators that consumers utilize are:
National Arbitration Forum
In North America: (800) 474-2371
Phone: (952) 516-6400
Fax: (952) 345-1160
Toll-free fax: (866) 743-4517
American Arbitration Association (ADR)
The ADR also has regional offices in many states.
335 Madison Avenue, Floor 10
New York, New York 10017-4605
Phone: (212) 716-5800
Fax: (212) 716-5905
Customer Service: (800) 778-7879
This company has offices and mediators throughout the United States.
Major Credit Bureaus
For Fraud Alerts:
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374-0241
Phone: (800) 525-6285
For Fraud Alerts:
P.O. Box 9530
Allen TX 75013
Phone: (888) 397-3742
For Fraud Alerts:
Fraud Victim Assistance Division,
P.O. Box 6790,
Fullerton, CA 92634
TDD: (877) 553-7803
ACORN – Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
After reporting mortgage fraud, scams and predatory lending practices to the appropriate agencies, you can also notify ACORN about your situation. Your state ACORN contact can be located at: http://www.acorn.org/index.php?id=2593
Consumer Federation of America (CFA)