Be careful with people who call offering ‘mortgage relief’

government actionHaving trouble with your mortgage? Be careful. Sometimes the people offering help are only trying to help themselves to what money you have left.

At the request of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a federal court has temporarily halted Los Angeles-based Wealth Educators, Inc. and its president from offering mortgage relief services. The company allegedly took upfront payments from consumers, while failing to help consumers as promised. Customers were also told to quit making their monthly mortgage payments, putting some of them in danger of foreclosure.

The FTC notes that it is illegal for a business to charge an upfront fee for mortgage modification. The lender or servicer must make an acceptable written offer to the consumer before the company can charge.

According to the FTC, the defendants have sold mortgage relief services under a variety of names since 2012, including Wealth Educators, Legal Educators USA & Co., Stargate Mutual & Associates, Providence Financial Advocates and Providence Financial Audits.

The company charged upfront fees ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 and told consumers they could get 100 percent of their deposits back if they didn’t receive promised services. Unfortunately, consumers who tried to get their money back were unable to do so. The company told many consumers they could get a loan modification and have their mortgage payments reduced.

Defendants include Wealth Educators, Inc., also dba Family 1st Preservations; Family 1st Home Loans; Legal Affiliates & Associates; Legal Educators & Co.; Family 1st Home Preservation; Legal Educators USA & Co.; Stargate Mutual & Associates; Providence Financial Associates; and Providence Financial Audits; as well as Veronica Sesma, also dba Sesma Consulting.

The FTC has some helpful advice for homeowners having trouble paying their mortgages.