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Consumer Attorney Services Wants to Charge Us to Help Modify Our Mortgage. – Kelley

“Dear Steve,

My husband was unemployed for 2.5 years due to medical issues. We exhausted our savings staying on top of the bills.

In aug, 2012 he did receive a job, but is underemployed and the combination of our two paychecks are barely getting us by.

We have an 80-20 loan on our house (from 2004) and our current 80% mortgage company is PennyMac.

I have tried numerous times to get a modification or reduction in payments, or even just a little forbearance until we could get back on our feet, but was denied all assistance.

In September of 2012, we fell behind on our payments, and have been 2 months behind since then.

We have received letters of Default from both companies (Ocwen is the second mortgage holder).

In Feb of 2013 I was able to get caught up on all principle payments due to our tax return, but we still have the late fees and extra charges they tacked on for being behind( valuation payments, certification letter charges, etc).

Now, however, we are finding ourselves behind again due to unexpected medical issue with my husband again. I can’t rely on constant paychecks.

We are wanting to do something to lower our monthly mortgage payments which are currently a total of 1,145 for both loans on a 170,000 home.

My husband looked online for some assistance and apparently filled out a small interest form. He was then contacted by someone at Consumer Attorneys Service out of Florida, with Brenda McCann as the head legal person.

After speaking with someone for almost an hour, they sent us a “contract” by email that I was to electronically sign right then, and provide our bank info so they could debit the $1700 retainer fee and set up a monthly legal fee of $700 a month after that until they resolved our issue.

They did say they could not guarantee any result which I do understand, but it scares me to think about using these people. They did provide, albeit over the phone (and there are a couple statements online) some of the positive outcomes they were able to do for others. But they also have a C- rating on BBB.

I have done a little searching online on PennyMac and it is very disheartening. Seems Pennymac doesn’t like to negotiate loans. The date for the initial attorney retainer debit has not happened yet (4-12-2013), so we have not paid them anything. Im still trying to figure out if using a lawyer to battle Pennymac is the way to go.

They seem to think from the preliminary info we gave them that they would indeed be able to help us, but again no guarantee. Even on the contract I signed (hastily I might add) they say you shouldn’t have to pay a third party to get a loan modification. Another thing that kind of scares me is there is a section that says we might be responsible for other fees that may incur.

My question is, do I try again to deal with Pennymac myself knowing that very very few if any have had any luck, or do I trust this firm to go to bat for me without any guarantee of any kind of loan reduction. Time is running out because I am again one month behind on paying the mortgage. I don’t want to foreclose. thanks.

Kelley”

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The Answer

Consumer Attorney Services Wants to Charge Us to Help Modify Our Mortgage.   Kelley

Dear Kelley,

You should first try working with your lender directly and contacting a free HUD Housing Counselor.

In fact this is what Pennymac says:

There are for-profit companies you can hire to represent you in this process, but often the same results can be achieved by contacting your lender yourself. And wouldn’t you rather put your money toward your home investment than spend potentially thousands of dollars in fees to an outside firm? In addition to saving money, working directly with your lender or through a free housing counselor can help avoid scams.

You can read more loan modification advice from PennyMac, here.

Remember, no lender is required to modify any mortgage they don’t want to.

Also, if you are getting back huge tax refunds it means you are having too much withheld from your paychecks. Adjust your withholding to break even and put the money back into your pockets each month where you need it to get by.

Mortgage Help

Be sure to first read How Not to Get Scammed by a Mortgage Loan Modification Company.

Debt-to-Income Calculator

First you’ll need to determine your current debt-to-income ratio. The target debt-to-income ratio under the Home Affordable Modification program is 31%. Use this free online DTI calculator.

Mortgage Modification Calculator

The mortgage modification eligibility calculator will ask you several questions and then show you which programs you may be eligible for.

The free mortgage modification calculator can be found here.

Free Mortgage Modification Help and Counseling

If you have questions about the process or eligibility you can call 888-995-4673 and get connected with an mortgage modification adviser for free. This help is provided by government subsidized HUD Housing Counselors and they can be a big help in navigating the modification process.

In order to assist you, the housing expert will need to gather some information from you. Have the following documents handy:

  • Information about your first mortgage, such as your monthly mortgage statement.
  • Information about any second mortgage or home equity line of credit on the house.
  • Information about the monthly gross (before tax) income of all household members contributing to pay the mortgage, including recent pay stubs if you receive them or documentation of income you receive from other sources.
  • Information about your savings and other assets.
  • Account balances and minimum monthly payments due on all of your credit cards.
  • Account balances and monthly payments on all your other debts such as student loans and car loans.
  • Your most recent income tax return.
  • It may also be helpful to have: A letter describing any circumstances that caused your income to be reduced or expenses to be increased (job loss, divorce, illness, etc.), if applicable.

You can also get free help and housing counseling from a local HUD approved counselor. You can find your local free housing counselor, here.

Contact Your Mortgage Company

Not sure if your mortgage company offers modification programs? Not all do. You can contact your mortgage company to ask them about mortgage modification programs you might be eligible for. Click here to find your mortgage company.

NPV Calculator

Want to know the net present value (NPV) of your home for the mortgage modification process? No problem, use the free NPV calculator to find out. The NPV calculator is right here.

The calculator can be used by homeowners who have been denied a HAMP modification because of their NPV result or can also be used by homeowners prior to applying for a HAMP modification to help them better understand the NPV evaluation.

No Advance Fees

The Federal Trade Commission has a Mortgage Assistance Relief Services Rule which prohibits advance fees for mortgage rescue services or mortgage modification help.

From what you’ve shared it seems like the issue is bigger than just modifying the mortgage. It sounds like your larger financial situation is out of balance and needs addressing.

I’d suggest you first read How to Get Out of Debt. The Honest and Unvarnished Truth, How Do I Get Out of Debt Quickly? Change Your Mindset, and The Truth About The Success Rates, Failure Rates and Completion Rates of Credit Counseling, Debt Settlement, and Bankruptcy. They will give you a great overview of what we need to deal with to get you moving in the right direction.

Then use the free How to Get Out of Debt Calculator to review your options.

Once you’ve identified a company you want to work with, then follow my step-by-step guide on what you should look for and expect from a good debt relief company.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

Big Hug!

Consumer Attorney Services Wants to Charge Us to Help Modify Our Mortgage.   Kelley
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If you have a credit or debt question you’d like to ask just use the online form. I’m happy to help you totally for free.

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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • kelstephe

    Steve,
    I have to tell you the good news! After ditching the potentially fraudy mortgage relief attorneys, I again tried to deal directly with my two mortgage holders. I submitted modification applications to both of them and BOTH were approved!! At the time of the application, one was 3 months (closing close on 4 months) behind and the other was three months behind with additional fees tacked on to both totally over $6000 to get them current. We had received the default letters and I was in a panic. However, in the past 2 days we were approved for modification. We have had the late paymenst tacked on to the end of the loan, lowered interest, and lower payments, and not due for another month- one not due till Aug. This has been such a huge help with our problems, and with the help of prayer and loving family members, we have been given the chance to pay down our other debt. This website has truly helped a lot with all the great articles and advise. I just want to let everyone out there know to keep trying with your mortgage companies and don’t give up. If they deny you once, try again. Make sure you provide the truthful reason for your hardship. I initially had little faith in the companies based on info I had read, but it was false. Keep at them. And it never hurts to pray. The Good Lord has blessed us and has given us the opportunity to get back on our feet. And pay it forward.
    Hugs!

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      That is awesome news. Thanks for sharing.

      You did it!

  • Mary

    The actual company name is McCann Law Group d/b/a/ Consumer Attorney Services. The bogus companies have the same phone number of 904-367-5564. This number is owned by BerllSouth Telecommunications, Inc which is owned by Eitan Kimelman. These scams are operated by all three brothers,. Eitan Kimelman, Yaron Kimelman and Abraham Kimelman. IMagine their ad reads that they “help homeowners avoid foreclosure by defense scams”. What a joke!
    The other interesting thing about these clowns is they use the same Public utilities contract out of Colorado and it is undated. And this company is not in Colorado!
    kelstephe – do you want the cotact information on the real thieves so that you can go after them? Is so, ask Steve if he can send me your email so we both know that this is legitimate.

    • kelstephe

      Mary, interesting info indeed. Since no money changed hands I don’t have anything to go after them with I wouldn’t think. I cancelled the agreement. I would however like to be in touch later if something agregious comes of it down the road.

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Eitan Kimelman’s attorney has contacted the site and has indicated a willingness to sue this commenter. We have advised the attorney that if that is what they choose to do we have no control over that and if we receive a subpoena, we will post the subpoena to allow Mary a chance to deal with the subpoena.

      It is the site policy to not remove comments, as laid out in the site terms. However, if the same commenter wants to offer a correction or retraction to their comments we would be willing for her to publish that message.

  • kelstephe

    Thank you for your review and suggestions! We have cancelled the client agreement and hopefully the post will assist others who may be bamboozled during their tough time by some high pressure call. Note to self –don’t ever sign anything without completely reading it over first. Especially if it is something that you do not completely understand.

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