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Is The Mortgage Law Group and The Law Firm of Macey, Aleman, and Searns a Scam? They Told Me Not Pay My Mortgage. – Katie

“Dear Steve,

I was looking up this law firm; The Law Firm of Macey, Alman and Searns.

I was looking on the web today to find answers and or a solution to my mortgage dilemma. I came accross a site :

US Mortgage Relief, called the 866 number and signed up with this firm…

I since have called them back to see if they were listed with the BBB of Scottsdale Az. and the woman I spoke with said; “yes, I think so..” so, I went to the bbb website in Scottsdale AZ and cannot find them under their Law firm name OR website name. Can you help me in making a good and sound decision before I send them dime.. they are asking $2400.00 in three installments of $800. In the mean time, to not pay my mortgage. They then will deal with my lender to get them to put my two months that I am behind, to the back of my loan. But this may take time, so, then I could become further behind in my payments.. I don’t know what to do… I don’t want to be scammed… I am not to make a payment until this friday. So, please help me out. Should I trust this Law firm?

Is this Law firm a scam? I cannot find them with the BBB of Scottsdale, Az.

Thank you so much!!!

Katie”

Dear Katie,

Thank you so much for attaching the documents they sent you as well.

First, let me start with the website your contract says is related to the transaction, masmortgagelaw.com

While that site certainly looks like it is the site of The Law Firm of Macey, Alman and Searns or Mortgage Law Group, it is actually owned by:

Underwater Property Solutions, LLC
8776 E SHEA BLVD
STE B3A-199
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

Underwater Property Solutions says the managing members are Christopher Sauer and the Sauer Revocable Trust

The domain name was registered on March 18, 2011.

The fact that you could not find the company you thought you were dealing with in Scottsdale is not surprising. It appears this website is a marketing or affiliate of the law firm. But even a search for Underwater Property Solutions on the BBB could not locate a listing.

But not only is the website not who they appear to be but the mailing address related to the website is a UPS Store. – Source

The Law Firm of Macey, Aleman and Searns

This lawfirm has been heavily involved in the debt settlement world as well under the name Legal Helpers Debt Resolution. You might want to read some of the previous stories here.

The cover letter you were given lists their address as:

17767 N. Perimeter Dr.
Suite B101
Scottsdale, AZ 85255

That address is actually associated with Legal Helpers Debt Resolution, American Platinum Financial Services, Underwater Property Solutions, and National Debt Assistance. – Source

And a job posting at that address spells out the relationship clearly when it says:

Underwater Property Solutions is located in Scottsdale, Arizona and is a leading source for loan modification and debt relief for people throughout the country. Our team has decades of experience successfully providing relief for struggling Americans. We have teamed up with the Nation’s largest debt solution law firm, The Law Firm of Macey, Aleman and Searns, to offer our clients a wide range of solutions to their financial troubles. Because of this partnership, we are experiencing phenomenal growth, and we are looking for team members that are motivated by the opportunity to grow along with us. – Source

It looks like the job description of the person you spoke with at Underwater Property Solutions has the following job description.

This is a phone-based sales position. We provide well qualified leads generated from a variety of marketing sources, there is no cold calling. We will teach you our rational, consultative sales process and give all the tools you need to succeed. Most of our clients sign documents electronically, so new Advisors can begin earning strong bonus dollars immediately after graduating from training. We provide the leads, training, processes, and clear performance expectations. You provide the ambition, willingness to learn, and desire to help Americans protect their homes and improve their financial stability.

The Advisor role offers an aggressive compensation plan that motivates Advisors to strive for six-figure incomes. We motivate our sales floor with regular contests as well as team recognition. Skilled sales professionals can expect to earn in excess of $80,000 annually, and an average rep can expect to earn 55K in their first year. We provide consistent coaching to help Advisors reach their goals. – Source

The Mortgage Law Group Retainer

Let’s take a look at the document they want you to sign.

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I’ll just hit some highlights for you to pay attention to.

There is no guarantee that they will be able to help you, only that they will “attempt” to help you. And paying for this help does not prevent you from being sued by your creditor. “In the event a creditor or collector sues…” If you are sued the agreement says The Mortgage law Group “…is under no obligation to provide representation.”

You would assume that the agreement says they will work with you “…until the negotiated resolution of a mortgage workout…” In fact that section of the agreement references another part of the contract that says the agreement can be terminated at any time by you or them.

It also says the law firm you have hired may not even be the people that provide you with service. They say the services may be subcontracted out and from the looks of the job posting for a loan negotiator by Underwater Property Solutions they will be the ones doing the work.

You will be representing the client on behalf of The Law Firm of Macey, Aleman, and Searns, the nation’s largest bankruptcy law firm. Through our close working relationship with The Law Firm (including on site attorneys and attorney oversight in each state) we are able to provide outstanding representation to our clients while expanding the range of services offered by The Law Firm. More than 80 employees in our North Scottsdale location service 1000 plus active loan modification clients, nationwide.

Ultimately, the Negotiator position is both challenging and rewarding. If you are driven to help people stay in their homes, and have the appropriate background, we are interested to speak with you. – Source

While you are paying thousands of dollars for mortgage modification assistance, this page of the agreement appears to say that if they obtain a temporary or trial modification, that will be considered as full satisfaction of their obligation and they are not required to help you get a permanent modification.

They say, in all capital letters that they guarantee no result nor even that they can workout a resolution that is beneficial to you.

If you decide to cancel the agreement you will be responsible for fees from each sub-stage of the services provided.

On this page they finally disclose the relationship with Underwater Property Solutions.

You can pay by credit card or electronic payment. If you ask to change the date your payment is drafted on it will cost you $40 and if any payment bounces you will be hit with a $35 fee.

Here is where you agree:

  • The outcome is uncertain.
  • You mortgage company can harass you and continue collection calls during the process.
  • You can receive notices of default and notices of sale of your property.
  • You can be sued by your lender and you may be foreclosed on.

The performance standard for the agreement does not mean you will be satisfied with the outcome, but that absent all of your other debt it will improve your cash flow.

This service will have a negative impact on your credit report, especially since they have already told you to stop making mortgage payments.

And here is where they finally tell you that even though they will charge you a big fee of thousands of dollars for mortgage help, it’s not necessary.

It is not necessary to pay a third party to arrange for a loan modification or other form of forbearance from your mortgage lender or servicer. You may call your lender directly to ask for a change in your loan terms. Nonprofit housing counseling agencies also offer these and other forms of borrower assistance free of charge. A list of nonprofit housing counseling agencies approved by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is available from your local HUD office or by visiting www.hud.gov.

By signing this agreement you are agreeing you will have to agree to arbitration for any dispute.

The document is signed by Jason Searns as the managing partner of The Mortgage Law Group. Interestingly the Mortgage Law Group appears to be a Nevada corporation that was formed on 3-31-2011. – Source

This page begins to describe some of the common debt intervention methods available.

The interesting point on this page is the statement:

TMLG will contact all your mortgage lenders in writing that you are represented by the law firm and that we are advising you as to all alternatives for debt resolution. As you have indicated in your compliance review, you prefer TMLG to attempt debt negotiation as an alternative to bankruptcy.

Is that really what you want to do or indicated?

Remember when I pointed out those partial fees you might owe if you terminate the agreement? Well here is where the stages are broken down. Bottom line is the service will cost $2,500 for them to not be able to guarantee they can help you save your mortgage.

My Advice

Before you make such a large investment into services that appear to provide no guarantee or protection from your creditors you should first contact your lender directly and ask them for assistance. If they are unable to assist you then locate a HUD housing counselor in your area.

Do You Have a Question You'd Like Help With? Contact Debt Coach Damon Day. Click here to reach Damon.

You need to understand there is NO requirement for any lender to modify any mortgage. Consumers have been advised by other states to NOT pay for any services for mortgage modification help in advance.

In fact the Federal Trade Commission has issued comprehensive rules on mortgage assistance relief services (MARS Rule).

According to the rule: It’s illegal to charge upfront fees. You can’t collect money from a customer unless you deliver – and the customer agrees to – a written offer of mortgage relief from the customer’s lender or servicer.

Lawyers have additional duties and responsibilities when offering mortgage relief services, including the following examples of activities that likely could cause attorneys to lose their exemption include:

  • Allowing their name to be used in solicitations to clients without actively providing legal services in connection with mortgage assistance relief services;
  • Misrepresenting any material aspect of their legal services, including the likelihood they’ll get a favorable result, an affiliation with a government agency, or the cost of their services;
  • Sharing legal fees for MARS-related services with non-attorneys;
  • Helping non-attorneys engage in the unauthorized practice of law;
  • Failing to keep clients reasonably informed about their matters, including the potential for adverse outcomes;
  • Failing to work diligently and competently on behalf of their clients – that is, not making reasonable efforts to get mortgage assistance relief; and
  • Engaging in a widespread telemarketing operation staffed by non-attorneys. – Source

So Katie, I’ll leave it up to you to review my feedback and information and come to a conclusion yourself about what you want to do.

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

Damon Day - Pro Debt Coach

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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.
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