When a college student seeks medical treatment at a campus healthcare facility, they probably expect they will be afforded the same discretion as all consumer are under HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act). But thanks to a separate, often conflicting federal law, that isn’t always the case. [More]
Yesterday, as part of “Operation Loan Lies,” the FTC and 19 states filed 189 lawsuits, cease-and-desist orders, and other legal actions to shut down loan modification consultants who prey on desperate homeowners. The scammers offer to help solve foreclosure problems for a hefty fee; instead, they fail to modify the loan at all while collecting payments for their services, sometimes even encouraging homeowners to stop communicating with their lenders completely or to send payments to the consultants instead of the bank.
Reader Mike is in a “challenging mortgage situation” and wants to know where he should turn for help.
Too many people wait until they hit rock bottom before seeking help from credit counseling agencies, says a New York credit counseling service. The consequence is that consumers end up limiting “the options available to them without having to make major, and often very difficult lifestyle changes. If they wait too long, debt repayment plans become unaffordable—leaving them more vulnerable to losing assets or having to file bankruptcy.”
So how do you know when it’s time to ask for help? If your monthly payments are exceeding your monthly income, it’s probably a good time. To find an agency, check out wikiHow’s How To entry, and use this list provided by Bankrate to ensure the agency will be able to provide the services you need.
As foreclosures continue to skyrocket, debt counselors have become a last resort—sometimes the only resort—for thousands of panicked homeowners who don’t know how they’re going to keep their homes. “I don’t think people fully appreciate the pressure that’s being put on those counselor organizations today,” says a Housing and Urban Development official. In addition to offering financial advice, the counselors try to help negotiate payment plans with lenders, stave off foreclosure notices, and even offer mental health support for people so distraught that they become depressed or suicidal. The average pay: $30-50,000 a year.
The ongoing subprime meltdown will claim its next victims in October, when adjustable rate mortgages worth over $50 billion reset, but homeowners facing foreclosure can keep a roof over their head by following a few common-sense tips. Above all, don’t panic, and don’t ignore the problem – instead, try the following: