Don't mail your mortgage payment until you're sure
Julie Garton-Good, GRI, DREI

You get a phone call from someone claiming to be the company who just purchased your mortgage. They state that since they're late getting the change information out to you, it's important that you send your mortgage check to them right away so your payments won't be in default--and they give you the post office box number to send it to.

What should you do? Nothing except to report the call to your current mortgage holder. This scam is just one of the many real estate payment scams currently circulating around the country. And many unwitting homeowners have sent their payments to companies like this to avoid being delinquent.

The federal government has enacted laws to protect consumers from just this type of activity. If your mortgage loan is sold, there's a series of events that must occur and you should be aware of them.

First, the lender selling your loan must provide you with a "goodbye" letter. On their letterhead, they will inform you who has purchased the loan, their address and phone number and an individual person with whom you can communicate. The selling lender must send this notice to you not less than 15 days before your next payment is due.

But the new lender has responsibilities, too. They must send you a "hello" letter, stating the same information as that provided by the selling lender. And if the letter fails to reach you before your should mail next payment, you will not be held responsible for late fees for a period of 60 days.

If either letter is missing pertinent information, call the contact person listed on the form. (Many lenders do provide an 800 number with the extension number of the person you need to talk to). If either letter is not written on company letterhead, does not have a postmark or appears to be a weak photocopy, do nothing until you check with both lenders.

There is nothing wrong with having your loan sold; in fact, a large percentage of all mortgage loans made today are sold to outside investors. Just be sure you're aware of your rights, that you've received the proper documentation from both lenders and that you call the contact person if you have any questions about the process.

Don't be a real estate scam fatality!