New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has enlisted the media to help crack down on foreclosure rescue scams.
Through a new joint initiative, the New York News Publishers Association, New York Press Association and New York State Broadcasters Association have agreed to help crack down on rampant and unlawful advertising of foreclosure rescue scams, Schneiderman’s office says in a release.
In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of foreclosure rescue schemes targeting New Yorkers, according to the announcement. Alarmingly, this includes an increase in the number of deed theft cases, in which scammers convince homeowners to sign away ownership rights on their homes.
Through this new initiative, media outlets will scrutinize advertisements to identify possible scammers, who often use trusted local outlets as a vehicle to target vulnerable New Yorkers, according to Schneiderman’s office. Dozens of community media outlets are being asked to participate in the voluntary initiative.
“Vigilant, well-informed homeowners are the best protection against these deceitful mortgage rescue scams,” Schneiderman says in the release. “These scams are particularly repugnant because they take victims of the housing crash and make them victims again. I want to thank New York News Publishers Association, New York Press Association and New York State Broadcasters Association for helping to ensure scammers cannot use the trusted voices of our state’s community news outlets to find and exploit vulnerable families.”
According to Schneiderman’s office, more than 42,000 homeowners have been scammed more than $100 million by foreclosure rescue schemes since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. For whatever reason, New York has seen a higher-than-average number of these scams in recent years.
As of December 2014, New York homeowners had submitted more than 2,700 complaints about foreclosure rescue scams to the Lawyer Committee for Civil Rights, documenting at least $8.25 million in losses. New York homeowners trail only California and Florida in the number of complaints reported to the Loan Modification Scam Database.
On average, each New York victim of a foreclosure rescue scam reported a loss of $4,183 – about $900 more than the national average.
Homeowners often report that they came to know about the scam programs through advertisements placed in well-known publications, including newspapers.
“Broadcasters throughout New York State are committed to serving the needs and interests of their communities,” says David L. Donovan, president and executive director of the New York Broadcasters Association, in the release. “We are happy to voluntarily participate in this program to help educate our viewers and listeners by asking distressed property consulting services to include disclaimer notifications. We look forward to working with the attorney general on this campaign.”