(Source: NeighborWorks America) — StopHomeScans.org is a national public education initiative led by NeighborWorks America with support from the Wells Fargo Foundation, National Fair Housing Alliance and National Foundation for Credit Counseling designed to help protect consumers by empowering them to take action and protect their home and community from scammers. The goal is for consumers to know the signs, get the facts, and stop home scams.
The economic impact of COVID-19 has made housing security even more uncertain for many Americans. With a patchwork of forbearance and rental assistance programs scheduled to end and up to 21 percent of renters at risk of eviction, many families are seeking solutions and finding themselves at risk of being taken advantage of through questionable programs and unscrupulous actors, until it is too late.
“We want to emphasize how important it is for consumers to know the signs of a housing scam and quickly report any scam activities,” said Marietta Rodriguez, president and chief executive officer of NeighborWorks America. “The Stop Home Scams initiative is making it easier for homeowners and renters in distress to protect themselves and help shut down scammers.”
Here are three key consumer tips for avoiding scammers.
– Avoid promises of success or anyone who guarantees to assist with payment or prevent foreclosure or eviction.
– Avoid companies that tell you to stop paying your rent or mortgage. Being told to stop paying is a sure sign of a scam.
– Reach out to your landlord or mortgage company when you are struggling with your monthly payments to ask any questions or share concerns about your home.
Consumers and partners can access StopHomeScams.org to find educational resources to help recognize and report a housing scam. In addition to scam awareness tips, StopHomeScams.org provides links to state and national partner resources to support consumers and assist them in finding assistance for their individual needs.
“We believe this effort to prevent housing scams is particularly important during a time when far too many families, including people of color impacted by the economic downturn caused by COVID-19, are facing financial challenges,” said Eileen Fitzgerald, head of housing affordability philanthropy with the Wells Fargo Foundation. “Protecting people from being compromised by scam attempts is important to helping keep people housed in a safe and affordable place they can call home.”
Lewis & Clark Development Group, through CommunityWorks North Dakota, is the state’s chartered NeighborWorks America organization.
To help spread the word, the Stop Home Scams initiative, led by NeighborWorks America and its nationwide network of nonprofits, will work to educate consumers and conduct outreach efforts to community groups and local residents. In addition to scam awareness tips, there are links to state and national resources to support consumers with finding assistance for their individual needs. StopHomeScams.org offers inclusive, consumer- friendly tools and resources.
“StopHomeScams.org is based on the belief that knowledge and action are the best defense against falling prey to scammers,” said Rodriguez. “That is why it was so important for NeighborWorks and our partners, like the Wells Fargo Foundation, to come together to help consumers, especially those most vulnerable at this time, with the tools they need to minimize their risk and stop scammers in their tracks. COVID-19 has proven to exacerbate scam activity, and consumers must empower themselves and protect their homes.”
For more information and to find more tips and guidance, visit www.StopHomeScams.org.