Scams related to COVID-19 have cost consumers nearly $500 million and homeowners are among scammers’ top targets. Mortgage scam artists may prey on a homeowner’s need to apply for forbearance, a loan modification, or simply a desire to refinance. They may pose as a mortgage company, a non-profit, or a government agency. They may target homeowners by mail, email, phone, text, social media, or in person.
Here are 8 of the top ways to stay protected during the pandemic.
1. Only apply for mortgage assistance with Mr. Cooper
If you need to request pandemic payment relief, apply only with Mr. Cooper. As your mortgage servicer, you must apply through us, though scammers may lead you to believe otherwise. Contact us through verified phone numbers, websites, or email addresses, as scammers may pretend to be us.
2. Contact HUD-approved housing counselors for help
If you need help understanding your relief options or negotiating with us, contact a HUD-approved housing counseling agency. They can provide free foreclosure prevention and debt management information, as well as translation or other language assistance. Beware that scammers may also pose as a HUD representative or counselor. Legitimate housing counselors will not contact you first to discuss mortgage assistance. Homeowners are expected to reach out to them. You may contact one of the following federal government agencies for a list of HUD-approved agencies.
- The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) at (800) 569-4287 or www.hud.gov/counseling
- The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) at (855) 411-2372 or www.consumerfinance.gov/mortgagehelp
3. Be suspicious of unsolicited and government offers
Don’t respond to unsolicited mortgage offers unless you verify them first. Contact sources using confirmed phone numbers, emails, etc. That said, we may reach out to you to offer help. Follow the tips within this article to help ensure it’s really us. When in doubt, stop communicating and contact us directly.
Additionally, be suspicious of offers directly from government agencies. Government agencies like HUD, and government-sponsored entities like Fannie Mae, will never contact you to offer you a loan modification. According to the FCC, government agencies will also never call you to request money or personal information.
4. Watch for warning signs
In addition to contacting you out of the blue, scammers may:
- Ask you to share sensitive information or “complete a loan application” over the phone, email, text, etc.
- Charge a fee to apply for forbearance or mortgage assistance.
Note: We never charge fees related to reviewing you for mortgage assistance workouts.
- Threaten foreclosure or pressure you. Real mortgage assistance should help you.
- Tell you to sign over your home’s title or transfer your property’s deed.
- Tell you to send your mortgage payment to a new address or make the payment to any third party.
- Require payment upfront with unconventional methods, such as a pre-paid debit card or Western Union®/MoneyGram® wire to an individual (rather than Mr. Cooper).
- Send trial or modification agreements from the “Underwriting Department.”
Note: Our underwriting department never sends notifications directly to customers.
5. Hang up on phone scams
Phone scams can sound convincing (here’s an example from the Federal Trade Commission). To avoid these:
- Don’t answer calls or texts from unfamiliar numbers.
Note: We never provide personal or cell phone contact numbers in official communications related to mortgage assistance.
- Watch out for “call spoofing”—scammers can disguise their caller ID numbers and hide behind legitimate company numbers.
- Disconnect from automated calls that ask you to enter personal information, like your loan number, date of birth, social security number or last 4 digits—Mr. Cooper will never ask for this information in an automated call.
If you accept a call that sounds like it’s from Mr. Cooper, take time to confirm it’s us. If in doubt, hang up and call us back on a verified number.
6. Beware of online scams
Online scams can look convincing. To prevent them:
- Be suspicious of messages that ask you to update your mortgage account’s password or fill out a loan application.
- Don’t click on links unless you can verify their URLs. Links can lead straight to a virus or identity theft.
- Double-check email addresses—watch for misspellings and addresses that end in something like “gmail.com.”
7. Stay informed
Check out the additional resources on preventing COVID-19 scams below and check for updates on these sites regularly.
- Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Fannie Mae
- Freddie Mac
- HUD Office of Inspector General
8. Report scams
If you believe you’ve been a victim, contact Mr. Cooper through our secure message center online or at 888-480-2432. To report scams to the federal government, contact the FBI or Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General. For additional resources, visit the “Report Scams and Frauds” page at USA.gov. Your complaint may protect others.