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National Mortgage Settlement Scammers on the Prowl in VA

March 21, 2012

RICHMOND, Va. - With the ink barely dry on the National Mortgage Settlement, groups are warning Virginians about scammers hoping to benefit from it.

In the settlement, five big banks will provide financial settlements to some borrowers who were foreclosed on, are behind on their mortgages or who owe more than their houses are worth.

Attorney Jay Speer, executive director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center, says scammers are contacting people by phone and e-mail, asking folks to pay a fee to receive money owed to them from the settlement.

"You can be sure that if anybody calls you and offers you any kind of assistance, or even if you go to a website and they offer you some sort of assistance in getting what you may be entitled to under the National Mortgage Settlement, it's going to be a scam."

Those eligible for benefits from the settlement should receive a claim form in the mail from an official source, Speer says. This could take six months or longer, but it does not involve paying a fee. Some also may be eligible for loan modifications or refinancing opportunities under the settlement.

It's far too soon for people to be contacted, Speer says, adding that if you have been, it's almost certainly a scam run by someone trying to liberate you from your hard-earned cash.

"If you've been approached, don't give these folks any money, don't give them any information, don't give them your Social Security number - and, of course, don't give them your bank account information."

Speer says those thinking they've been the victim of a scam or are concerned about a possible scam should contact the Virginia Attorney General's office. He says those with questions should contact their loan servicer directly or visit the Virginia Poverty Law Center website, vplc.org, for more information.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA