New FTC Rule Protects Struggling Homeowners

November 19, 2010

There is a new rule in place designed to protect nationwide and Chicago homeowners from mortgage relief scams.

The Federal Trade Commission today introduced the Mortgage Assistance Relief Services (MARS) Rule, which targets companies that claim that, for a fee, they will negotiate with the consumer’s mortgage lender or servicer to avoid foreclosure.

Since the mortgage crisis started, the FTC has brough more than 30 cases against bogus operations like this, and state and federal law enforcement partners have brought hundreds more.

“At a time when many Americans are struggling to pay their mortgages, peddlers of so-called mortgage relief services have taken hundreds of millions of dollars from hundreds of thousands of homeowners without ever delivering results,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. “By banning providers of these services from collecting fees until the customer is satisfied with the results, this rule will protect consumers from being victimized by these scams.”

The most important part of the new rule is the “advance fee ban,” which says:

*Mortgage relief companies can not collect any fees until they have provided homeowners with a written offer from the consumer’s lender or servicer.

*The offer must have a description of the key changes to the loan.

*The homeowner must approve the terms, and the relief companies must remind consumers that they can reject the offer free of charge.

There are other stipulations to the rule, mostly prohibiting mortgage relief servicers from making false claims, including that they are backed by the government if they aren’t.

For more information on the new MARS Rule, check out

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