You may remember when Farmer’s Insurance ran their “Farmer’s Friendly Review” promotion a few decades ago. Basically, the pitch was “bring your current insurance policy to Farmer’s, and we’ll analyze it to see if you could do better.”

While their motives were certainly not altruistic, it was nonetheless a brilliant marketing pitch.  Impartially reviewing insurance policies can indeed uncover opportunities to save money and improve coverage for policyholders. And Farmer’s picked up some new customers. A win-win.

So let me offer the “Finet Friendly Review”: If you’re wondering if YOU could do better on your mortgage, give us a call. Within 5 minutes we will be able to tell you whether refinancing is in your best interests.

We’ll want to know a few things from you, like “what’s your current loan balance?”, “What’s your rate and payment?”, “How much is your home worth?”, “How long do you expect to live there?” and “what do you want to accomplish by refinancing? Lower your rate? Shorten your term? Consolidate debt? Do home improvement?”

No sales pitch and no pressure (That’s just not our style). We have some of the most seasoned mortgage professionals in the business (averaging over 15 years of experience), and they won’t waste your time or their own unless there’s a genuine benefit to refinancing.

And you’ll be delighted to discover that we actually answer the phone when you call (as long as it’s during business hours)!


                         BEWARE THE LOAN MODIFICATION SCAM

When hard times and tragedy strike our neighbors, most of us ask ourselves “what can I do to help?” But there is a certain type of individual that asks “how can I steal money from them?”

A staggering number of American homeowners lost their homes after the mortgage meltdown and subsequent recession took away their equity, income, and savings. But scam artists, seeing an opportunity to kick people when they’re already down, descended on the suffering like a plague of jackals.

The airwaves and internet were flooded with ads from “loan modification” or “foreclosure relief” companies which promised to help struggling homeowners by negotiateing a lower rate from their mortgage lender, or by using the system to stop the foreclosure process.

The problem was that, in most cases, no actual work was ever performed. As a result, most victims lost their homes anyway, but not before wasting thousands of dollars that could have gone to pay the mortgage.

Many of these companies tried to pass themselves off as legal firms, often using an actual licensed attorney’s credentials. They gave themselves official-sounding names, often attempting to appear as though they were authorized by the U.S. Government. They made money-back guarantees.

In 2010, a relative of mine was trying to find employment in southern California, and interviewed for a job with one of these companies (for some reason, Orange County was the hot-bed of loan modification scammers). I decided to do a little investigative work to see if they were legitimate. I read reviews posted on YELP and other sites. It wasn’t pretty.

One review, posted by a woman claiming to be a former employee, warned “these people are crooks! Do NOT do business with them under any circumstances! They claim to be lawyers, but they simply pay a crooked lawyer for the right to use his name, and that lawyer has never set foot on the premises, much less done any legal work. They don’t do anything for their clients but cash their checks, then laugh about how stupid the clients are! When clients call for updates, they give them a bunch of lies just to string them along. No one has EVER received a loan modification from these criminals! If you are solicited by this company, RUN as fast as you can in the other direction!”

Well, no self-respecting con artist is going to take that kind of criticism lying down! So they launched a full-on attack of the woman, claiming on their website that she was a disgruntled former employee who was fired for dishonesty. They promised to “prosecute her to the fullest extent of the law” for her outrageous slander against their fine and honorable company.

One thing missing from their response was any specific denial of her accusations. No examples of successful loan modifications or satisfied customers were offered.

Predictably, after collecting millions in fees, the company mysteriously vanished. One morning, clerical employees arrived to find the doors padlocked, the website taken down, the phones disconnected. 

Why had their con game succeeded so well? One thing crooks have always understood is that desperate people are easy to trick. Are you desperate to find a cure for your terminal illness? I’ll sell you a miracle. Desperate to get across the border? Pay me thousands and I’ll take you to the promised land!

There are legitimate companies and organizations dedicated to helping struggling homeowners with their mortgage, but it is illegal to collect up-front fees for this service. If you, or anyone you know, are asked to pay an up-front fee, report it to the district attorney in your county. Thankfully, many of these con artists are now being prosecuted for their actions.

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