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Scammers call or email, pretending to be from the VA or your home loan servicer. They claim if you pay them an upfront fee, they can get you a loan modification or refinancing to avoid foreclosure, so you can keep your home. But that’s illegal. Do you know your rights when it comes to getting relief for your mortgage debt?

  • Don't pay any money until the company delivers the results you want. The Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule (also called Regulation O) makes it illegal for a company to charge you a penny unless it's given you a written offer for a loan modification or other relief from your lender or servicer — and you accept the offer.
  • Before you sign with them, the company must tell you
    • they’re not associated with the government or your lender
    • that your lender might not agree to change the terms of your mortgage, and
    • the total fee the company will charge for its services
  • Before you decide to accept an offer of mortgage relief, the company must
    • give you a document from your lender or servicer showing their offered changes to your loan, and
    • tell you that if you don’t want to accept the offer, you don’t have to pay the company’s fee

You always have the right to contact your lender or servicer directly to see whether you have other options. Companies that tell you to stop communicating with your lender or servicer are breaking the law.
If you’re having trouble paying your mortgage, connect with a VA loan technician. The VA offers help with discussing your loan with your servicer. Learn more about VA’s help to avoid foreclosure.

If you see these practices, tell the FTC at

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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

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