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Napa County district attorney warns homeowners against coronavirus-related fraud

Napa County district attorney warns homeowners against coronavirus-related fraud

Napa County is cautioning local homeowners to steer clear of criminals taking advantage of financial stress caused by the coronavirus pandemic to sell illegal loan modification and foreclosure prevention services.

The office of District Attorney Allison Haley called on residents to verify that any business asking for personal financial information is legitimate, qualified and licensed by the state of California.

“As homeowners seek relief due to financial impacts of COVID-19, loan modification and forbearance are ways to potentially save your house,” the department said in its news release. “However, loan modification and foreclosure rescue scams are currently circulating around the country.”

In a loan modification or forbearance program, the homeowner works with a lender or loan servicer to modify an existing home loan — through a lower interest rate, a longer period to pay back the loan, reduced or delayed payments, or other changes.

However, scammers often falsely promise the ability to guarantee a loan modification or halt a foreclosure, and require payment in advance before failing to deliver the promised services. Legitimate loan modifications are not always possible for all homeowners.

Residents looking to change home-loan terms can consult lenders without charge, find a free counselor through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at hud.gov, or work with a licensed representative. Such agents include California-licensed real estate agents (dre.ca.gov) and state-licensed attorneys (calbar.gov). Homeowners also can check a company’s license records as well as its Better Business Bureau (bbb.org) file for any complaints.

It is illegal for anyone to charge an advance or retainer fee for loan modification or forbearance.

Anyone who has been victimized by a loan modification scam or rescue or has information about such a scheme is asked to file a complaint with the Napa County District Attorney’s Office at countyofnapa.org/da/consumerdivision, or by calling 707-253-4059.

For more information, read the document “Real Estate Fraud Warnings 2020,” which is available on the District Attorney’s Office website at countyofnapa.org/1335/Media-Center

Editor’s note: Because of the health implications of the COVID-19 virus, this article is being made available free to subscribers and non-subscribers alike. If you’d like to join us in supporting the mission of local journalism, please visit napavalleyregister.com/members/join/

Coronavirus roundup from the Napa Valley Register, St. Helena Star, and The Weekly Calistogan

This webpage contains our recent Napa County coronavirus coverage as featured in the Napa Valley Register, American Canyon Eagle, St. Helena Star and The Weekly Calistogan. This page will be updated daily.

You can reach Howard Yune at 707-256-2214 or hyune@napanews.com

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Public Safety Reporter

Howard Yune covers public safety for the Napa Valley Register. He has been a reporter and photographer for the Register since 2011, and previously wrote for the Marysville Appeal-Democrat, Anaheim Bulletin and Coos Bay (Oregon) World.

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