Tips for Avoiding Foreclosure Scams, Finding Real Help

Home foreclosure assistance

What does one in every 1,058 homes in the U.S. have in common? This is the national foreclosure rate, as of January 2014. In some states, this number is even higher. It’s easy to judge and assume that foreclosure is the result of “buying bigger than your budget,” but in reality, some of the most common causes of foreclosure aren’t foreseeable when people agree to their mortgage. Job loss, death, divorce, adjustable rate loans, and ongoing health issues are some of the top reasons for foreclosure.

Do you need help with home foreclosure? Are you unsure about the foreclosure process, and what you can or should do? Here are a few tips to help you through.

Is Foreclosure Taxable?

  • Usually, but not always. Certain farm debts, non-recourse loans, and bankruptcy discharged debts are not considered taxable parts of income.
  • For tax purposes, foreclosures are treated like sales, according to the IRS. Even if you lost money on foreclosing your home, you can’t claim it as a loss on your tax return.
  • The Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act of 2007, though, will allow you to qualify for relief and exclude income on your taxes that are a discharge of debt on your principal residence.

Are Mortgage Help Centers Scams?

  • There are legitimate mortgage foreclosure help centers, and there are also help centers that are largely scams, working to collect hundreds or thousands of dollars from already burdened borrowers.
  • The majority of scams, though, are mortgage modification scams, where individuals pose as bank officials and create fake letters offering loans. If you receive such a letter, visit your bank in person to discuss the potential loan.
  • Counselors at a help center can help with home foreclosure by talking you through your various options — foreclosure is not usually your only choice when you are defaulting on your home (short sales, for example, are a popular alternative). They can also help you get financial counseling so that you can eliminate the problems that led to your impending foreclosure.

Do you need home foreclosure help? Let us know in the comments.

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