FTC is Seeking Consumers’ Advice on Mortgage Practices: Here’s Your Chance!

The federal government has announced that it wants to hear the views of consumers on private sector loan modification firms, and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) says it wants to hear specifics.

I’ve interviewed more than a hundred homeowners whose homes have been saved by private sector loan modification firms, and I know that there are certainly tens of thousands, if not more, that fall into this group. People that tried to call their bank directly, tried to call the government help-line, and were left with nowhere else to turn… until they found a private sector loan modification firm they could hire to help them get done what they’d been unable to do themselves.

I’m contacting everyone I’ve interviewed and asking that they write down their views and send them into the FTC before the deadline, WHICH IS JULY 15, 2009.  And I certainly hope that others do the same.

1. If your house was saved by a firm you hired, here’s your chance to tell the federal government how important it is that such firms remain available to homeowners in need. No one is in favor of scammers that defraud consumers, but the government has been painting all firms with far too broad a brush. They need to crack down on the fraudulent operators and allow the reputable ones to continue to help consumers save their homes from foreclosure.

The banks clearly do not want homeowners to be represented when negotiating for loan modifications. They’d much prefer to negotiate with a homeowner directly or through a nonprofit counselor because those negotiations are likely to come out better for the banks.

But the most important point is that homeowners have a right to be represented by whomever they choose when negotiating with their lender. If they want to call a nonprofit or try to negotiate with their lender or servicer directly… that’s fine. But if they want to hire a firm to help them, well that should be fine too.

2. And if you’re someone who works in or owns a private sector loan modification firm, whether real estate licensed or a law firm, now is the time to talk to your clients whose homes you’ve helped save about sharing their stories with the FTC as well.

If you’re not sure how to approach your clients, or are concerned about doing so… CONTACT ME IMMEDIATELY because I can certainly help. My email is: mandelman@mac.com and there is absolutely no time to spare.

Many of you undoubtedly know my views on this subject, and I have to tell you that if you ignore this opportunity I will be beyond disappointed. Nothing you’re currently doing matters more than this does, so don’t even think about telling me you’re too busy to get to it.

The FTC has published two separate requests for comment about practices that could result in new prohibitions in these areas, depending on the comments the FTC receives. The FTC is asking for comment about for-profit services that offer to help borrowers obtain mortgage modifications. Among other things, the FTC is asking whether it should ban these companies from charging an advance fee.

If I had to hazard a guess, I’d have to say that there’ll be plenty of people with something negative to say, whether it’s true or not.  People love the chance to complain, and they generally do so a lot more than they praise.  So, it’s up to those that believe in protecting a homeowner’s right to hire a private sector firm to represent them in negotiations with lenders and serivcers, to go out of their way to make sure that this point of view is not absent from the comments the FTC receives.

A comment form can be sent to the FTC through July 15, 2009. Include the words Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rulemaking, Rule No. R911003,” and make sure you DO NOT include any personal information because whatever you submit may be published.

FTC Comment Form: https://secure.commentworks.com/ftc-mortgageactsandpractices/


PRACTICES: http://www2.ftc.gov/os/2009/05/R911004mortgageacts.pdf

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