March 14, 2009                                                         Contact:Lucas Hamilton

State Auditor Monica Lindeen alerts Montanans to Loan Modifications -the Latest Predatory Scam Targeting the Region


      Helena - State Auditor Monica Lindeen warns consumers to keep a watch out for a new scam. Consumers are receiving calls from "loan modification" firms - the type advertise they will negotiate with creditors to get their loan balances and interest rates reduced- and have been instructed by those firms to not contact their mortgage loan servicer.
      
      Lindeen says homeowners should to be sure to contact their mortgage loan servicer or lender directly before ever contacting a loan modification firm.
      
      Scams like this work when the borrower contracts and hires a "loan modification" firm, sends them cash up front, and is told not contact their lender directly. The "loan modification" firm then cashes the check. The borrower receives the impression the firm is taking care of everything, when in reality, the borrower is simply missing all her/his payments.
      
      People who have been contacted by potential scam artists or may have information concerning scams or fraud are urged to contact the Investigations Unit at the State Auditor's Office at 1-800-332-6148.