Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today

Scam Alert

'We'll Save Your House'

Older Americans are prime targets in red-hot foreclosure scams

4. Rent to buy. Scammers say that if you surrender your home's title to them, you can remain under your roof as a renter and buy the home back later.

Forget claims that this prevents foreclosure and can improve your credit rating — here's the real deal: The bad guys raise the rent to evict you, make the buy-back terms so stiff that you can't reclaim your home; or just let the foreclosure proceed.

5. The sell shell. Fraudsters offer to find a buyer for your home, but only if you sign over the deed and move out. Once the deed is transferred, they rent the home to someone else and pocket the proceeds while your lender goes ahead with the foreclosure.

You lose your home, and you're still responsible for the unpaid mortgage because transferring the deed does nothing to transfer what you owe on the mortgage.

6. The "sign here" shuffle. The granddaddy of foreclosure rescue gotchas is a simple bait and switch, with your signature as the scammer's goal. Under the guise of some promise — an "assistance loan" of $10,000, for instance — you're asked to sign a stack of paperwork. Buried deep within, amid a rushed "sign here, initial there" routine, is a document that sells your home for $10,000. You get a check that you think is a loan, but in fact it's the fire-sale price of your house.

Other scammers hide a title transfer document in the stack, giving them your house for free. If you get wise midway and don't sign, they may forge your signature.

The bottom line: Avoid self-proclaimed rescuers. Get legitimate help and information about weathering a foreclosure from trustworthy sources like these:

  • The mortgage industry's website HopeNow.

Also of interest: An escape route from foreclosure. >>

Sid Kirchheimer is the author of Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


The Cheap Life

Jeff Yeager Cheap Life Ultimate Cheapskate AARP YouTube web series save money

Catch the latest episode of The Cheap Life starring Jeff Yeager, AARP's Ultimate Cheapskate. Watch

Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Member Benefits HomeServe

Members can protect their homes with comprehensive repair plans from HomeServe.

AARP Credit card from Chase

Members can get cash back rewards on purchases with the AARP® Credit Card from Chase.

Woman holding smartphone in city, Google map tool

Members can find discounts on the go via the AARP® Member Advantages Offer Finder app.

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! AARP members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Rewards for Good

Your Points Balance:

Learn More

Earn points for completing free online activities designed to enrich your life.

Find more ways to earn points

Redeem your points to save on merchandise, travel, and more.

Find more ways to redeem points


Advance your skills. Transform your career.

Explore your learning possibilities.