Refinance con hooks homeowners with upfront fees

Published 1:26 pm Saturday, October 31, 2015

Special to The Leader

BEAUMONT — Rumors that interest rates may rise soon have some homeowners looking to refinance. Scammers are taking advantage of this interest by fooling homeowners with false promises and upfront fees.

You receive an email, phone call or flyer offering you a great deal on refinancing your home. The company may promise you a low “guaranteed” interest rate or inform you that you qualify for a special program. With refinancing, they say, you could lower your mortgage payments by hundreds of dollars a month.

There’s one big catch! The “company” needs you to pay an upfront fee in order to lock in your rate, sometimes as much as thousands of dollars. Once you hand over the payment, the “company” vanishes with your money.

Tips to Spot a Mortgage Scam:

Mortgage refinance scams take many forms. While the scam above can affect any homeowner, many con artists specifically prey on those who have fallen behind on payments or are underwater on their mortgages. Watch out for these signs.

You must pay an upfront fee to “guarantee” your rate. Always be wary of upfront fees. Unless you are confident in the company, its possible you will never see that money again.

The company claims it is part of a government program. Scammers increase their credibility by connecting themselves to official or trustworthy institutions. Do your research and contact the government or your loan servicer first.

You are pressured to make a decision immediately. Phrases like “act fast” or “limited time offer” are immediate red flags indicating a possible scam. Scammers hope that time pressure make victims more likely to make costly mistakes.

You are told to stop paying your mortgage lender. This will do damage to your credit rating, and the money you hand over to a third party will likely disappear.

If you are having trouble paying your mortgage or want to discuss refinancing options, contact your current lender first. The customer service number will be on your monthly statement.

To find out more about other scams, check out BBB Scam Stopper ( To report a scam, go to BBB Scam Tracker (

For personal assistance, call 409/835-5348 or 855/BBB-SETX.