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Scammers Try to Dupe Homeowners Who Need Help

Scammers love stressed people in need, and they’ve deployed a range of spoofing and other tactics that offer financial aid to panicked homeowners.

NEW YORK – Scam artists see struggling homeowners as easy marks right now, and they’re reportedly using multiple methods, including spoofing tactics, to trick them using offers of financial aid.

Freddie Mac warned this week of a scam: Borrowers were receiving fraudulent calls supposedly from Freddie Mac and being offered low interest rates and other false promises. Freddie Mac says it never reaches out to consumers over the phone with a refinancing opportunity or a new loan offer.

Knowing that some homeowners are struggling economically thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers may call owners with offers of immediate relief from foreclosure or help with programs that can temporarily suspend their mortgage payments.

Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and many private lenders actually are offering programs to help homeowners have trouble right now – but those calls need to be initiated by the owner.

“Spoofing is when a caller deliberately falsifies the information transmitted to your caller ID in an effort to disguise their identity while pretending to be someone else,” Freddie Mac warns in a statement about the growing scam. Through spoofing, a homeowner’s cell phone could actually say the call is coming from Freddie Mac.

“During times of distress, it is important to be on your guard against fraud schemes,” Freddie Mac says in a post.

Tips from Freddie Mac to help homeowners avoid being scammed:

  • If a call comes from an unknown number, let it go to voicemail. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
  • If you answer and receive a robocall, don’t press any numbers. Hang up.
  • Never give out any personal, financial, or other sensitive information unless you’ve verified the caller is a legitimate source.

Be cautious of numbers on your caller ID since scammers can make any name or number appear.

Source: “Avoiding Fraud: Call Spoofing,” Freddie Mac (March 25, 2020) and “Avoid Getting Caught Up in Coronavirus Scams Involving Your Mortgage,” Forbes.com (March 26, 2020)

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