Monday, February 22, 2010

Free foreclosure prevention help

Gains continue in North Carolina's foreclosure prevention effort, with the state saying that as of Monday, it has helped 3,132 families keep their homes, an increase of 17 percent since year end.

Of those, 360 were Mecklenburg County homeowners, according to the N.C. banking commission, which runs the program.

Please note: The program is FREE.

And a reminder: Since 2005, it's been against the law in North Carolina to charge an upfront fee for foreclosure prevention assistance. But with foreclosure filings at record levels, there are many people afraid of losing their homes and exasperated with the mortgage modification process. They keep shelling out their last dollars in the hope of getting help.

Last year, the N.C. Attorney General's office issued 166 cease and desist orders to firms pedaling mortgage modifications or other foreclosure assistance. That's more than four times the 40 orders in the previous year.

Don't do it. Call toll-free, 1-866-234-4857, for FREE assistance. You can also locate FREE foreclosure prevention counselors in your area at

In addition to those who have already worked out a plan, more than 8,000 additional homeowners have met with housing counselors to get free advice and assistance in dealing with their finances and mortgage problems. More than 1,000 of those were residents of Mecklenburg, which leads the state in foreclosure activity.

Report suspected foreclosure assistance scams to the Attorney General's office at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM or by filing a complaint at

I'd also like to hear from you if you've been approached by a firm charging a fee or are concerned you may have been the victim of a foreclosure assistance scam. Please e-mail me at or call direct, 704-358-5173.