The Federal Trade Commission has recently begun cracking down on forensic audits, which are a service provided by companies that claim to be able to negotiate lower mortgages by pressuring banks over legal issues in mortgage documents. These so called forensic audits are exploiting the financial needs of Americans. In a time when finances are a serious challenge, scams attempt to pull even more money out of the pockets of those in financial crisis.
The forensic auditors claim to work their way through homeowners’ loan documents in search of some sort of law violation. They claim that finding a violation could help reduce the mortgage costs, however, they do not assist the homeowner in obtaining the reduction from the supposed law violations. In addition, they charge large upfront sums of money to cover their services. These forensic audits frequently cost nearly a thousand dollars or more and most of the time, they do not help to lower mortgages.
The searches the forensic auditors perform on homeowners’ documents are looking to uncover several types of legal errors, including TILA law violations, RESPA law violations, accounting errors, and general legal mistakes. The forensic audit companies claim that they can use these errors as leverage to force mortgage companies into providing a lower mortgage, offering a bonus, or even surrendering the house to you for free.
Even if a homeowner qualifies for a loan modification due to some sort of legal issue, they are extremely unlikely to obtain it through the use of a forensic audit company. The only way to put legal pressure on a large institution like a bank, is to sue them. Suing a bank would cost so much money that it would not be worth any potential modification in the homeowner’s mortgage. Banks are large and powerful, they have no reason to care about one individual claiming that they broke some unheard of law in their mortgage contract.
Additionally, if the forensic auditors do not find any legal issues in your documents, than you have paid a huge sum of money and have not received any benefits from their service. The loss of the extra money will hurt your already difficult financial situation.
Smith and Gromann, one forensic audit company, is currently being charged by the Federal Trade Commission for wild claims that the company could lower 80 to 90 percent of homeowners’ mortgage payments through discovering law violations. The company was also charged with using a database of phone numbers without paying the telemarketing fees.
The first complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission on the issue of forensic audits occurred in November of 2009. The original complaint was against the Debt Advocacy Center that was falsely claiming that they had helped 90 percent of their clients obtain cheaper mortgages. They were also accused of falsely claiming that they would offer refunds to clients that did not benefit from their services. None of these claims turned out to be true. The Debt Advocacy Center was also charged with illegally charging clients’ credit cards without their consent.
After the forensic audit scams were discovered, the Federal Trade Commission created Forensic Mortgage Loan Audit Scams: A New Twist on Foreclosure Rescue Fraud. The program is designed to help homeowners avoid being scammed and it also provides them with ways they can legitimately lower their mortgage payments.
Many homeowners become frustrated with their high mortgage rates and feel that there is no way to lower their mortgages. This is not necessarily the case. There are many ways to legally and legitimately lower your mortgage rate. Some banks are more flexible than others, but there are many that would be happy to help you lower your mortgage. Most banks have no desire to go through all the effort and the paperwork associated with repossessing your house or handling late payments. Visit your bank and ask them about legal and legitimate ways to lower your mortgage, they will be happy to assist you.
Forensic auditing companies are scams. They will not help you lower your mortgage rate and any legal issues they uncover will not be enough leverage to force the mortgage company into modifying your rates. Seek legitimate channels for mortgage modification and never pay an upfront fee for a mortgage lowering service like forensic audits.