Body warns of home-loan scam

2011-09-19 12:13

Beware of scammers offering to bail out debt-ridden home owners, the SA Banking Risk Information Centre (Sabric) said today.

“The banks are concerned about the relentless offers doing the rounds,” said Sabric chief executive Kalyani Pillay in a statement.

“These offers are, in actual fact, calculated scams that may result in homeowners losing their properties,” he said.

Distressed home owners should discuss repayment options with their banks rather than taking up offers promising bailouts.

There were numerous variations of the property rescue scam and they often appeared to involve a legitimate consultant with a listed telephone number and website.

“They advertise their services through newspapers and outdoor signage, and they also use court foreclosure notices in newspapers to source details of their victims,” Pillay said.

Consumers taking up their offers often ended up in worse debt or even losing their homes, she said.

In one variation of the scam, fraudsters offer to bail out the homeowner, who unknowingly signs documents handing over his property for sale.

Homeowners may be told if they surrendered the property title and stayed on as renters, they could buy back the property once the matter has been “fixed”. Instead, they ended up losing the property.

Sabric advised homeowners not to do business with companies or individuals saying they could stop a foreclosure process or telling them not to contact their bank.

Consumers should not ignore letters from their bank. They should also not agree to a repayment programme without making sure the bank had been informed and agreed to it, Pillay said.

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