To submit a housing complaint by phone, you can call the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357).
Today’s homeowners fall behind on their mortgages for a variety of reasons. Maybe they lost your job, perhaps had an unexpected medical expenses, or maybe another economic circumstance hindered their ability to make their monthly payments.
Whatever the reason, falling behind on a mortgage is a serious, and often stressful life situation.
The Capital Area Foreclosure Network (CAFN) recommends that you contact a non-profit housing counseling agency right away – they can help you identify your best options based on your current income, the value of your home and available government programs.
Housing & Urban Development (hud.gov):
- For a HUD certified non-profit counseling organization in DC click here.
- For a HUD certified non-profit counseling organization in Suburban Maryland click here.
- For a HUD certified non-profit counseling organization in Northern Virginia click here.
Because there are a lot of homeowners struggling to keep their homes right now, these counseling organizations may not be able to see you right away.
While waiting for an appointment you should start collecting all the necessary documents that your counselor will need to give you the best assessement.
- Bank Statement (2 most recent months)
- Pay stubs from each person on the mortgage (2 most recent months)
- Proof of income from all source
- (SS, SSI, unemployment, alimony, child support, retirement, pension, etc)
- Copies of credit card statements (most recent month)
- Copies of your bill statements (utilities, phone, gas, cable, homeowners insurance, etc)
- Truth in Lending Disclosure
- Copies of the following loan documents:
- Loan Application
- HUD-1 Settlement Statement
- Good Faith Estimate Statement
- Mortgage Note
- Credit report and score
Some homeowners prefer to figure out a solution on their own. It is critical that you take time to educate yourself on your options if you are going to work alone. Your lender may be able to help you avoid missing mortgage payments or catch up on payments you have already missed. If you are going to work directly with your lender, the following are some suggestions to help you:
BEFORE YOU CALL:
- Think about whether you are willing to cut your spending to continue to afford your mortgage or whether it is time to consider the best way of leaving your home and moving on. The following are pointers for homeowners that want to stay in their homes and are willing to work hard to do so. Other options exist for homeowners that want to move on.
- Know where you are on the foreclosure timeline. Maryland, DC and Virginia have different notice requirements, different programs to help, and different amount of times it can take to complete a foreclosure.
- Open and read your mail from your lender.
- Find the phone number to call on your mortgage statement or on a letter from your lender.
- Have your loan number available so your lender can look up your account.
- Be prepared to answer questions about why you have missed (or will miss) mortgage payments. They may ask you to provide this information in the form of a letter often called a “hardship letter”.
- Know how much money you have on hand to contribute to a workout agreement. If you don’t
- have any money saved, be prepared to explain when you will have money ready.
- Know how much your monthly household income and expenses are. They may do a financial assessment to determine what type of workout options may be available to you.
- Set aside enough time for the call. You may be placed on hold during your call – be patient.
- Have a pen and paper handy so you can take notes.
WHEN YOU CALL:
- Write down the date and time of the call, who you talked to and what they told you.
- Ask to talk with the “Loss Mitigation” department; this is the department that can talk to you about possible workout options.
- Get a phone number for the person you talked to so you can call that person back directly.
- Tell the lender about your situation and talk about your desire to keep your home.
- Answer all the lender’s questions honestly, and be prepared to fax or mail any financial
- Documents they request as soon as possible.
- Ask them what types of workout options are available to you.
- Ask for any proposed workout plan to be sent to you in writing before you agree to it.
- Don’t agree to anything you cannot afford.
- If you have questions or want a second opinion, contact a nonprofit foreclosure counselor.
BEWARE OF SCAMS. Maybe you feel like you were tricked into taking out a mortgage you could not afford or did not understand. Even if that is not what happened to you, you probably know someone who had this problem.
Today scam artists are trying to take advantage of your fears of losing your home. Make sure you don’t make a bad situation worse by letting someone take advantage of you. And ALWAYS read and understand everything you sign.
- Beware of any person or organization that asks you to pay a fee in exchange for housing counseling services or modification of a delinquent loan. Do not pay – walk away!
- Beware of anyone who says they can “save” your home if you sign or transfer over the deed to your house. Do not sign over the deed to your property to any organization or individual unless you are working directly with your mortgage company to forgive your debt.
- Never make your mortgage payments to anyone other than your mortgage company without their approval.
- If you suspect that someone may be trying to take advantage of you because you are facing foreclosure, call a HUD certified nonprofit housing counseling organization.
- To prevent others from getting hurt, please report all scams. You can file a complaint online through the Loan Scam Prevention Network.