Business

State Launches New Foreclosure Resource Website

January 8, 2013, 2:52 PM HST
* Updated January 10, 2:17 PM
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The state wants Hawaii homeowners to know that they have options to avoid possible foreclosure and fraud.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs has launched a multi-media campaign designed to inform Hawaii homeowners of their options, provide free resources, and increase awareness about mortgage fraud.

As part of the campaign, DCCA has created an online Hawaii Foreclosure Information Center that will be a hub for foreclosure information for homeowners.

The website, HFIC.Hawaii.gov, has answers to many questions and situations.

The site includes contact information to legitimate and free housing counselors with whom the state has partnered.

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“There are many people who have been paralyzed by the fear of losing their homes,” DCCA Director Keali’i S. Lopez said. “We want them to know there is hope.”

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Hawaii was part of a nationwide settlement earlier this year with five major US banks, including Ally/GMAC, Bank of America, Citi, JPMorgan Chase, and Wells Fargo.

As part of the settlement, Hawaii homeowners who received mortgages from those lenders may have opportunities for loan modifications or funding for previously foreclosed houses.

There is also a fast-approaching deadline for those foreclosed on between Jan. 1, 2008, and Dec. 31, 2011. Those homeowners must file a claim by Jan. 18, 2013.

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Another part of the campaign message focuses on the growing problem of mortgage rescue fraud.

Scammers posing as legitimate businesses are charging distressed homeowners substantial upfront fees on the pretext that they will help save the distressed homeowner from foreclosure.

The DCCA advises homeowners that Hawaii law generally forbids anyone from collecting an upfront fee for these services.

“These people have no conscience. They deliberately target homeowners who are worried about losing their homes and give them a message of hope while they plot and scheme to take their money,” Kim said.

“HUD-certified housing counselors in Hawaii actually provide help to distressed homeowners at no charge.”

The Office of Consumer Protection has jurisdiction of investigating and seeking court action against perpetrators of mortgage rescue fraud.

Homeowners who believe they could be victims or have been approached by potential scammers can contact OCP at (808) 587-3222.

The campaign will also help funnel homeowners to nonprofit, certified housing counselors through the HFIC.Hawaii.gov site.

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