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MILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Department of Justice joined a collaboration of state and federal organizations today in reaching out to distressed homeowners in Wisconsin who continue to face the effects of foreclosure. The groups came together for a seminar "A Day of Information and Training" to provide information and resources for homeowners on where to turn for legitimate help when facing foreclosure and how to avoid falling victim to loan modification scams and other forms of foreclosure-related fraud.
Wisconsin - like other communities throughout the nation is dealing with foreclosure rates that have reached all-time highs in recent years. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that foreclosure actions continued rising in 2010, with 2,311 actions reported statewide in May, compared with 2,201 in May 2009.
The rise in foreclosures has resulted in a corresponding rise in loan modification fraud targeting distressed homeowners. Today's seminar is part of a public education campaign led by NeighborWorks America to help homeowners guard against such fraud and find legitimate, reliable resources for assistance.
The collaborating partners included NeighborWorks America, the City of Milwaukee, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Legal Aid of Milwaukee, Housing Resources, Inc., United States Department of Housing & Urban Developed (HUD) Milwaukee & Minnesota Field Office, Marquette University Law School Foreclosure Mediation Team, M&I Community Development Corporation, NeighborWorks America, Select Milwaukee and the University of Wisconsin Office of the Vice Chancellor for Partnership and Innovation.
"We are committed to protecting Wisconsin homeowners from unscrupulous people who try to take advantage of distressed homeowners. We are please to join this effort of public awareness because prevention is the best form of protection," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Funded by Congress during the summer of 2009, NeighborWorks America has been charged with coordinating a "Loan Modification Scam Alert" campaign nationwide through its 235 community-based affiliates and other local, state and national partner organizations, including the FDIC, HUD, the Federal Trade Commission, the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.
Information, resources and reporting capabilities are now available around the clock at www.LoanScamAlert.org and by calling 1-888-995-HOPE (4673). The campaign uses real-life scam stories, collateral materials, print advertising, local radio PSAs, events, word of mouth and social media to draw special attention to the warning signs of a loan modification scam.
Homeowners wishing to report a suspected scam operation may fill out a complaint form online by going to www.LoanScamAlert.org and selecting "How to Report Scams."
Attorney General Van Hollen and the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection previously issued a Consumer Alert, warning homeowners about loan modification scams and foreclosure rescue fraud. A copy of the alert is available.
If you believe you have been victimized, please contact the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at their Consumer Protection Hotline1-800-422-7128 or you may also file your complaint online at File a Complaint.