Have You Been Scammed? 6 Essential Resources to Fight Back

By Samantha Savory

As of July 2011, over 80,000 Americans have reported suspicious and fraudulent activity concerning mortgage scams.  The FBI has estimated more than $3.2 billion has been lost to scam artists.  If you actually sit back and look at the numbers, it’s astonishing how many Americans have been victimized by some sort of fraud, particularly over the last three years.

Whether it be identity theft or mortgage fraud, it’s easy to understand why a simple sales pitch promising a quick fix has convinced millions of Americans to fork over lump sums of money.  Scam artists prey on vulnerable homeowners and desperate debtors trying to find a way to pay their bills and avoid foreclosure. The FBI’s how to avoid becoming a mortgage fraud victim and Consolidated Credit’s ID theft prevention booklets are great resources to read about in an effort to never becoming a victim.

Here are 6 great resources for mortgage fraud or identity theft victims when looking to fight back and file a complaint:

  1. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) — This new government agency was created by the Obama Administration and officially started in July 2011.  If you have been victimized by any type of financial institution — bank, mortgage broker, credit lender, credit union, payday lender, mortgage relief company, or debt settlement organization — file a complaint with the CFPB. This institution protects consumers from being taken advantage of by financial institutions and is an excellent source of financial education.
  2. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Stay up-to-date on the latest news and statistics about mortgage fraud criminal investigations by visiting fbi.gov.
  3. Better Business Bureau (BBB) –Visit http://www.bbb.org/ and find the branch closest to  you. Before doing business with a financial institution, you can check business reviews on the national BBB site.  Those who feel they have been taken advantage of or been scammed by a company can file a complaint with their local BBB.
  4. State Attorney General’s Office – If you believe that you are the victim of a scam or fraud, contact your state’s Attorney General.  By filing a formal complaint, the case will be investigated in an attempt to find and prosecute the person or company that scammed you as well as attempt to get your money back.  Every state has an attorney general fraud toll free hotline and online complaint form.
  5. Federal Trade Commission — The FTC deals with issues that touch the economic life of every American. It is the only federal agency with both consumer protection and competition jurisdiction in broad sectors of the economy. The FTC is an agency known for vigorously pursuing effective law enforcement on behalf of citizens that have been taken advantage of through identity theft or mortgage fraud. By clicking here, you can fight back against ID theft. To file a formal complaint about a financial institution, click here.
    6. The Division of Consumer Services – Every state has a division of consumer services and affairs. This government agency is a section within the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services which regulates a number of businesses and accepts complaints against those businesses under their jurisdiction. To file an online complaint or call toll free, simply Google “Division of Consumer Services” along with the state in which you live.

Do you have an identity theft story that you would like to share? If so please use the comment section below.