Buying a house is a big investment, both financially and emotionally. Families spend years building memories in their homes, and it is not uncommon for homeowners to spend more and more money on upkeep and improvements. The thought of losing a home with that much time, energy and love invested into it can be frightening. Homeowners who are facing foreclosure may understandably look for help, but they must be able to discern between legitimate help and scams.

For example, a scammer might tell a homeowner that he or she will buy the home and pay off the overdue portion of the loan. The scammer will then tell the homeowner that he or she can still rent the home and even buy it back in the future. If the homeowner agrees, he or she will sign the property’s deed to a third party. This scenario usually has one of two outcomes. The scammer will either set the rent too high and evict the original homeowner, or later raise the price of the home to an unreasonably high figure.

Not every scam involves losing one’s house, though. A scammer may contact a homeowner via email, text or call and promise to help lower mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure. The scammer will ask for payment upfront, often in the form of personal checks or gift cards. A victim may lose hundreds or even thousands of dollars without ever receiving any help with his or her mortgage payments.

There may also be a few signs indicating that something is a foreclosure scam. For example, someone who instructs a homeowner to not talk with his or her lender or attorney is likely trying to run a scam. Contacting one’s lender is a very important step in avoiding foreclosure. A homeowner who receives a personal or handwritten note should also be aware that scammers use this method to lure in victims. It is not uncommon for them to target an entire neighborhood.

If keeping one’s home is a priority, then prompt action is essential. Most lenders offer several options for Maryland homeowners, including loan modifications. A loan modification alters the terms of one’s mortgage to create more reasonable monthly payments. This approach might be helpful for a homeowner who is facing foreclosure and is ready to find a solution.