The Federal Trade Commission has been quite active lately, protecting consumers. Of course there is a lot of work to do. Particularly in the areas of debt settlement companies and mortgage loan modifications. Many of the people that I counsel in connection with bankruptcy cases have already been scammed or duped by companies that talked them into parting with their money for a debt settlement scam or a mortgage loan modification scam.

A U.S. District Court Judge recently granted FTC requests to stop two companies from falsely advertising that they are part of a government-endorsed mortgage assistance network and that they successfully modify mortgages for almost all of their clients or else give refunds. In fact, the FTC alleges that the defendants are not affiliated with the legitimate HOPE NOW Alliance mortgage assistance network, often divert one month’s mortgage payment as a fee from distressed homeowners, fail to help them modify their mortgages, and then deny them refunds.

€œWith many consumers desperate for relief and afraid they might lose their homes in these difficult economic times, some unscrupulous individuals prey on these fears for their own financial gain, said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. €œThe New Hope and Hope Now scammers have given consumers false hope under the guise of the government-endorsed HOPE NOW Alliance. We won’t hesitate to take action against these types of con artists now and in the future.” The complaints and temporary restraining orders were entered against: 1) Hope Now Modifications, LLC, Hope Now Financial Services Corp., also doing business as (dba) Hope Now Modifications, and their principals, Nick Puglia and Salvatore Puglia; and 2) New Hope Property LLC, also dba New Hope Modifications LLC, and its principals, Brian Mammoccio and Donna Fisher.

The FTC continues to seek a permanent halt to the defendants€™ illegal conduct. If you need legitimate help seeking a loan modification, there are non-profit HUD- approved housing counselors that can help you for little to no fee. Of course if you are posted for foreclosure and need help immediately, and live in the Houston Texas metropolitan area, call my office at 713-772-8037 to make an appointment to meet with me.

You may need to file Chapter 13 bankruptcy, to stop the foreclosure and give you up to 60 months to catch up. It may still be possible to obtain a loan modification during your Chapter 13 bankruptcy.

J Thomas Black
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Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization
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