When you fall behind on your mortgage payments, you are already stressed and worried about your financial situation. This anxiety is exacerbated when mortgage lenders and collection agencies begin using foreclosure scare tactics to intimidate you out of your home quickly.
The foreclosure process is incredibly slow. Although most banks will begin foreclosure proceedings around the fourth to sixth month of missed mortgage payments, these banks are swamped with accounts that are past due. In fact, there are so many homes going through the foreclosure process that the banks are forced to hire outside bill collectors to assist them with handling accounts. A foreclosure can take years to finalize, but many banks are now pushing collectors to use scare tactics to push you out of your home faster in hopes of both punishing you for getting behind on payments and speeding up the timeline for selling your home.
The most common foreclosure scare tactics employed by debt collectors today include:
- Using “shark” attorneys – a term for aggressive and intimidating lawyers – as bill collectors
- Lying by telling you that falling behind in mortgage payments is a crime and can result in your arrest
- Changing the lock on your door
- Canceling your homeowner’s insurance
- Failing to pay your property taxes
- Refusing mortgage modifications, and instead offering deeds in lieu of foreclosure
- Stating you will lose your home immediately if you do not pay off the rest of your mortgage in full
- Telling you the time to negotiate has expired even though the court has not yet granted the foreclosure
The best way to fight foreclosure is with the assistance of a real estate attorney. In addition to consulting with a lawyer, you should:
- Consult with a credit counselor. A credit counselor will review your expenses and income, determine if you can afford your mortgage, and advise you on areas to cut down on expenses.
- Answer calls from your lender. You may feel ashamed and nervous about answering the phone call about a past-due payment, but a simple phone call can help stall foreclosure. By explaining your financial situation to your lender, you may be able to restructure the terms of your home loan, lower your monthly payments, or receive a grace period due to a financial hardship.
- Pursue a foreclosure alternative such as mortgage modification, reinstatement, partial claim, or forbearance by special request.
Whether you are trying to avoid foreclosure or you need assistance with easing the process of foreclosure, you should consult with a foreclosure lawyer who has experience handling foreclosure negotiations and alternatives. A foreclosure lawyer can assist you with scare tactics and will fight for your rights in court.