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Calls, texts, and emails can be quick and convenient, but they can also be a way for a scammer to steal your identity or money if your guard is down. Here are 7 tips to protect yourself from a mortgage phone, text, or email scam, as well as what to do if you think you’re a victim.
Note: If you’re a Mr. Cooper customer, we may contact you by email or text from time to time. Follow the tips in this article to help ensure it’s really us. We’ve also listed information on our communication practices below. When in doubt, don’t respond and contact us directly.
1. Beware of “phishing” and “smishing”
By now, you’ve probably heard of phishing. Phishing is an email scam where con artists pose as a trustworthy company or government agency, such as the IRS. SMS phishing, or “smishing,” is the text version (SMS is another name for text messages). These can look or sound very convincing if they’re well-written, link out to a professional-looking site, or include logos. The end goal of either scheme is to get you to share sensitive information or install a virus that will steal it by clicking on a link or downloading an attachment.
As a homeowner or homebuyer, you may want to be suspicious of messages that claim to be from sources like your mortgage company, bank, real estate agent, title company, or a housing counselor. Check for the red flags listed below to make sure you avoid a scam.
2. Look out for messages and phone calls that push you to act
Scammers will try to push you into a bad decision, so take your time evaluating mortgage phone calls, texts and emails. Be skeptical of messages that say things such as:
- Your mortgage is in default or you’re at risk for foreclosure.
- You need to make a payment upfront or with an unusual method such as a pre-paid card or by Western Union®/MoneyGram® wire. Note: Mr. Cooper does not accept debit cards, credit cards or pre-paid cards for payments.
- You need to wire closing funds to a different source than was planned.
- Unusual activity or login attempts have been detected on your account.
- You need to update your account’s password.
- Something’s wrong with your payment.
- You need to verify your Social Security Number (or last four digits).
- Your loan has been approved and you need to complete an application.
If you’re going through a difficult time financially, also beware of mortgage relief scams. For more information, see our blog “8 Ways Mr. Cooper Customers Can Avoid Scams.”
3. Watch for red flags
According to sources such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), warning signs for these scams include random messages that:
- Request personal information.
- Don’t use your name, e.g., “hello sir.”
- Use bad grammar and misspellings (though some are well done).
- Include email addresses or links that have misspellings or strange endings (example: mrcopper.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Another red flag is a message that comes from a strange-looking number. It may be unusually long or short. That said, scammers can hide behind a legitimate number. This is called spoofing, or SMS spoofing when it applies to texts. Email spoofing, which uses legitimate email addresses, is also a possibility. Given all this, check for additional signs of fraud before responding to or interacting with unsolicited communications.
4. Follow basic safety tips
As a general practice:
- Don’t respond to unsolicited messages and unfamiliar phone numbers and email addresses.
- Never share sensitive personal or banking information with an unverified source, including limited information such as the last four digits of your Social Security Number.
- Keep apps and antivirus software up to date on your phone, tablet, and computer.
- Block scammers’ numbers and email addresses. Many phone companies offer filters and apps are also available.
- Delete scammers’ emails and texts. If it’s safe, take screenshots first to help report them.
- Don’t click on links from unverified sources, they may have a virus. Go directly to verified websites on your own.
- Don’t click on attachments—they can also contain malware.
5. Get familiar with Mr. Cooper’s communication practices
To stay a step ahead of fraud as a Mr. Cooper customer, be aware that:
- We only use toll-free numbers registered to Mr. Cooper to call customers. We’ll never call from a personal or cell phone number. Note: Mortgage Professionals may use direct lines for one-on-one communication.
- We never send texts from our “Underwriting Department”—that’s a red flag for a scam.
- We never request Social Security Numbers or the last four digits via an email or text.
- We never ask for personal information such as your loan number, date of birth, Social Security Number or its last 4 digits in automated calls.
- We list many notifications we send by email on your account online. If you need to verify a message, sign in and click on the notification bell for your latest updates.
6. Report scams
If you spot mortgage fraud or believe you’ve been a victim, contact Mr. Cooper through our secure message center online or at 888-480-2432. You can also report directly to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov or by calling 877-382-4357. Federal agencies also recommend reporting spam by forwarding messages to 7726 (SPAM). Check with your phone provider to confirm what information they’ll need if you report to 7726. Some sources say to send a copy of the message, for example. Take care not to click on links while forwarding messages.
Additional reporting agencies can include the FBI or the Federal Housing Finance Agency Office of Inspector General. For more resources, visit USA.gov’s “Report Scams and Frauds” page. Your complaint may protect others.
7. Take action if you were scammed
Don’t lose hope if you’re caught in a scam. There may be ways to get your money back, protect your credit, and take control of your computer and phone again. Financial options may be as simple as contacting your bank or wire transfer company or asking the U.S. Postal system to “intercept” a package you’ve mailed. See options in the FTC’s article “What To Do if You Were Scammed.”
By using all of the resources available to you, you can prevent mortgage scammers from profiting from their schemes.
Tradenames and trademarks used in this blog post are the property of their respective owners. Nationstar Mortgage LLC d/b/a Mr. Cooper is not affiliated, associated, or sponsored by any of these owners. Use of these names and trademarks is not intended to and does not imply endorsement but is for identification purposes only. Information provided does not necessarily represent the views of Mr. Cooper. Information is subject to change without notice.