Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

Program offers free services to New Yorkers facing foreclosure

December 14, 2016

As published by the NY Daily News on December 14, 2016.

A program dedicated to helping New Yorkers vulnerable to foreclosure scams will receive an extra $20 million obtained through settlements with banks involved in the 2008 financial crisis, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday.

The added funding for the Homeowner Protection Program will expand free counseling and legal services for families in danger of having their homes seized.

“With foreclosure rescue scams on the rise, we are enhancing HOPP’s capacity to empower our most vulnerable homeowners to avoid becoming victims of these scams,” Schneiderman said.

Foreclosure scammers typically promise to negotiate lower mortgage payments for people at risk of losing their homes in exchange for up-front fees. Once the homeowners pay, those services never materialize, worsening their predicament.

As of February 2016, the New York City Department of Finance had 525 open investigations of mortgage rescue scams involving 671 properties across the five boroughs, mostly in Queens and Brooklyn.

Since 2012, Schneiderman has dedicated $100 million to the Homeowner Protection Program. Over 70,000 families have used the service.

That money was obtained through $95 billion in settlements with banks in connection with the economic crisis — $5.5 billion of which went to New York State alone.