News 11 Special Report: The Mortgage Mess - 19 Action News|Cleveland, OH|News, Weather, Sports

News 11 Special Report: The Mortgage Mess

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Two million homeowners across the country will face foreclosure by the end of the year, many of them right here in NW Ohio. Lucas County is among the top 25 in the nation with foreclosures. There are plenty of companies now offering to help. But are they for real?

April Dugger is a proud new mom, but with the joys of parenthood came unexpected expenses that nearly cost Dugger her home. In fact, she faced foreclosure.

"I started getting behind on my payments," she says. At one point, Dugger was six months behind on her mortgage. After failing to work out a deal with her lender, she faced foreclosure and felt hopeless.

She felt hopeless, that is, until a surprise letter arrived in the mail from a foreclosure rescue company.

"They guaranteed me that I would not lose my home," Dugger says.

Experts say the rescue industry is booming, with more companies than ever promising to renegotiate the terms of a mortgage and stop foreclosure action. But the Federal Trade Commission warns the majorityof these companies are useless.

"Foreclosure rescue companies promise they can save the home when, in reality, few can," says Allison Brown, Federal Trade Commission.

"The BBB just recently issued a national alert because we've seen complaints rising," says Karen Nalven, Better Business Bureau.

These include complaints about companies that disappear after taking your money, about sky-high fees for simple phone calls consumers could make themselves and about plans where homeowners are enticed to turn over their titles or surrender ownership.

"Many people are losing a lot of money and their homes because of these unethical foreclosure rescue companies," Nalven says.

If you run into trouble paying your mortgage, the best advice is to contact your lender. They may work out a plan that you can afford. If that doesn't work, the Department of Housing and Urban Development can recommend a housing counselor to get you back on your feet -- free of charge.

Posted by KO 

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