(KCPW News by Faroe Robinson) With Utah's foreclosure rate rising, the Utah Department of Commerce is warning residents about foreclosure fraud. Real Estate Division Director Mark Steinagel says homeowners can protect themselves by negotiating with their lenders when they first become delinquent, and by seeking advice from a professional they trust. He also says consumers shouldn't transfer the title of their home to a third party, and recommends turning to government services for help.
"There are legitimate people out there trying to help people find solutions to their problems, and what I think is the most important thing to realize is there is no fail safe method to protect yourself, but I think the best thing you can do is contact your lender as soon as you realize you are going to start becoming delinquent, because many of the lenders want to work this out because foreclosures cost them a lot of money," Steinagel said.
The department also released the common themes that fraudulent companies use. Steinagal says to beware if someone wants you to sign the house over to them, promising you can lease the home and buy it back later. He says people don't understand that this is the same as selling the house.
Steinagal also warns of fraudulent companies that claim they have a special arrangement with a bank. He says the best thing to do is to ask questions.
"Eventually those questions start unraveling the deal, the legitimate people will say you bet, lets look at another option for you or lets verify whatever you need to verify. And the fraudsters don't like that because of course there are lies. Whichever of the five things we say, I would do as many of them as possible," Steinagal said.
A RealtyTrac report states that Utah has had more than 14,000 foreclosures so far this year, and more than 600 in Salt Lake County for September. For more information on how to report a fraudulent company click here.