By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — First they lost their jobs, now many are losing their unemployment benefits. Next, could they be targeted by scam artists?  3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan has a warning for former casino workers who may be struggling to remain in their homes.

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It’s been six months since the Revel, Showboat and Trump Plaza casinos shut their doors leaving many without jobs.  According to the New Jersey Department of Labor currently 2,040 former casino workers are collecting unemployment benefits.  But approximately 1,530 of them will exhaust those benefits by the end of March, and another 200 in April.  Which poses problems, for those that own homes.

“That’s going to be an area hard hit by foreclosures and people starting to have difficulty paying their mortgage because of the loss of their unemployment,” says Patty Hasson with Clarifi, the region’s largest non-profit consumer counseling agency.   She says when the unemployment benefits stop, laid off casino workers could be vulnerable to scams.  According to Hasson, “There’s a lot of firms that advertise we can help you stay in your home, costing thousands of dollars.  If they’re asking you for money upfront to help you save your home, just call time out.  Go on the internet and look for a HUD certified counseling agency, Clarifi is one of them, and we can help you through that process at no cost.”

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Save-your-home scams aren’t new.  Hundreds of bogus mortgage modification companies and sleazy law firms took advantage of struggling home owners at the height of the recession.  You should never pay money up-front to anybody in order to save your home.

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