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Internet mortgage scams

By Judy Martel · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Posted: 6 am ET

Beware when searching on the Internet for ways to modify your mortgage payments. So far, the federal government has shut down more than 200 scam companies that are promising to help struggling homeowners.

 In a separate action, search engines have been taking their own actions by barring suspicious advertisers. Google removed 500 advertisers from its site and Microsoft, which operates Bing and Yahoo search engines, banned 400.

Since many homeowners search on the Internet for ways to take advantage of the government's Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, that's where scammers target online ads that promise to help. The most common scams involve asking homeowners to pay upfront fees for mortgage assistance. Scammers also instruct homeowners to stop paying their mortgage, cease communications with lenders and send the payments to them instead.

As frustrating and time-consuming as it may be, homeowners should work through their lenders or a counselor approved by the Department of Housing and Urban Development for mortgage modification.

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