With the current recession in full swing and unemployment rising, the quest by unscrupulous predatory lenders to take advantage of seniors is on the rise. One of the areas in which they are particularly insidious is in selling reverse mortgages.
There are a host of reverse mortgage scams that are plaguing our senior citizens, and steps are being taken to stop it. In this article, we will try to highlight the main things you need to watch out for when it comes to reverse mortgages.
According to HUD, deceptive practices and allegations of high-pressure sales tactics are being more frequently encountered as senior citizens are being taken advantage of under the guise of a helpful and legitimate reverse mortgage.
Borrowers also run the risk of being steered into inappropriate loans and annuities by sales agents and insurance brokers who could be working together without disclosing that relationship to the borrower. They are all in it for their percentage, and since greed is what got America into the current credit crisis, it will certainly not get us out. Common sense will.
A reverse mortgage can be of real benefit to people who truly need it, since it frees up equity in your home. Unfortunately, reverse mortgage scams were on the rise even before the current economic crisis hit. A case in point is California:
According to the Oakland Tribune dated Sept. 6, 2006, “Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed a bill into law that adds protections against scam artists offering reverse mortgages.”
The new law requires that before getting a reverse mortgage, people must receive independent advice about the pluses and minuses from a certified counseling agency that does not have any profit motive. This shows you how profitable reverse mortgages can be, so buyer beware.
The law also requires that mortgage documents be translated into the language in which the loan was negotiated, ensuring that a borrower who doesn’t speak English has full access to the complex financial information. This reverse mortgage law also blocks the questionable practice of requiring people to buy annuities they may not need.
For more information on reverse mortgages, visit HUD at: http://www.consumerlaw.org/initiatives/seniors_initiative/tips.shtml.
Our seniors are particularly vulnerable these days to the scams that pervade our society. They have seen their retirement funds asvested in 401ks virtually vanish, and greed run rampant. They have seen higher taxes, and their children lose their homes to foreclosure. They have lost jobs, or are now reluctant or unable to retire.
Given the fact that so many seniors may be in financial trouble now, and are feeling more and more desperate, they become victims of relentless individuals and companies that seek to prey on their immediate financial concerns by offering seeming good advice and a quick fix to their problems.
But remember, buyer beware, and if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
If your parents or grandparents are considering a reverse mortgage, make sure you get involved as a back up person. By all means accompany them when they seek advice from a counseling agency so that you can assist them with any and all questions relating to reverse mortgages. Take notes, read the fine print, and get independent advice from a non-profit source.
Look up reverse mortgage scams online. Stay informed, and stay safe. Again, a reverse mortgage might be a great idea for some seniors depending on their situation, but beware of reverse mortgage scams now, to avoid disaster later.