By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Mortgage delinquencies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey are on the rise.
Often desperate times call for desperate measures, but before you shell out money to a company to help save your home, 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has a warning for you.
“We were very vulnerable and you know, they preyed on that,” says Misty Corsey.
Corsey had hoped to lower her mortgage payments when her husband’s hours were cut. A company called Mortgage Foreclosure Experts promised to help for a $2300 upfront free.
According to Corsey, “We were guaranteed to get our mortgage under one thousand dollars.”
That would have been a savings of over $500 a month, but what did she really get? Corsey says, “They did get me a modification for about $15 dollars cheaper.”
“I thought I did everything right,” says Kim Jagielski.
Jagielski had hired Mortgage Foreclosure Experts after being laid off. She says, “He said they can help me get a remodification, that I was doing something wrong on my own, that they were there to help me.”
Jagielski paid $2,300 too and didn’t get anything in return. She says, “They won’t respond. They won’t call.”
In March 2011, Mortgage Foreclosure Experts was one of 11 unlicensed companies that the New Jersey Attorney General targeted for providing illegal modification services. The State fined the companies and sought $125,000 in restitution. But now, two years later, only three of those companies have ever paid up, and only a measly $4,000 was given back to customers. Mortgage Foreclosure Experts wasn’t among those three companies, and has never forked over a cent.
Judi MoBilio doesn’t think the state is doing enough to protect vulnerable homeowners. She says, “I think they’ve completely dropped the ball.”
MoBilio had just moved into a new home when the housing bubble burst and the deal to sell her old home fell apart. She says, “We were stuck with this new home and another one that just hadn’t sold.”
MoBilio paid Mortgage Foreclosure Experts $8,300 to modify her loans until the market bounced back. She never got a modification and lost the vacant house to the bank. She says, “I never would have believed it could happen to my husband and I.”
Marco Ferreira was one of the principals of Mortgage Foreclosure Experts until it shut down. When we caught up with Ferreira, he maintained others in the company were still working on MoBilio’s modification even though she’d already lost the house.
When asked who those people in the company were, Ferreira wouldn’t respond.
MoBilio says, “Clearly the truth and realty are two separate worlds when it comes to Marco.”
If you’re having problems paying your mortgage, this is a perfect example of why you need to check out any company before doing business with them. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware all require that any company offering loan modification assistance be licensed with the state. While Mortgage Foreclosure Experts isn’t doing business anymore, when they were up and running, they were doing business illegally.
Only your bank can guarantee you a mortgage modification, and you don’t have to pay to get help when dealing with your bank. There are plenty of non-profit groups offering this type of help for free.