Ask Andy: Mortgage Audits - Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Ask Andy: Mortgage Audits

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MEMPHIS, TN -

(WMC TV) - A Utah-based consumer advocate service that is the subject of a Better Business Bureau advertising review is mailing unsolicited offers for mortgage "audits."

Accelerated Equity & Development, Inc., aka. ACT Program, of Draper, UT, has mailed several of our viewers unsolicited notices. The notices say "...based on city and county records your loan as well as many other loans may have been overcharged or miscalculated several thousand dollars."

The notice advises them to call a toll-free number to consider an audit of their mortgage loans.

"What seems to be most common in the market are overcharges of fees," said Skyler Witman, one of the company's founders. "There's also miscredits to people's escrow accounts.

"Through access to public property records and deeds of trust, we track borrowers who either have variable interest rates, have balloon payments, have been in their homes for more than three years or whose loans have been recently sold. Those are the borrowers most likely to have mistakes or overcharges on their loans."

According to the company's website, www.consumerservicing.org, consumers must pay $99 up-front before receiving any of ACT's services.

If the audit finds evidence of an overcharge or miscalculation, Accelerated Equity & Development prepares an audit rebate form to present to your lender in order to request the refund.

If the audit does not find any mistakes, Witman said his company refunds the $99 fee.

"There are far more people out there who are not due the refund than are due the refund," he said. "That's why we have the program to give their money back.

"The most common benefit from our service is people really getting the peace of mind that their lender is servicing their mortgage accurately."

Since March, the Salt Lake City, UT, branch of the Better Business Bureau has been conducting an advertising review of Accelerated Equity & Development, Inc.

It dropped the company's rating from an "A+" to "No Rating" after logging 15 consumer complaints, ranging from problems with its product or service to billing, collection and advertising complaints (click here for the BBB record:  http://www.bbb.org/utah/business-reviews/forensic-loan-audits/accelerated-equity-and-development-in-draper-ut-10061629).

"It's a ploy to get people to call in and talk to somebody that's obviously going to be good at talking in sales terms," said Sam Goff, mortgage loan officer with Evolve Bank & Trust in Cordova, TN (www.getevolved.com).

"I would be leery of any offer that isn't coming from your current servicer or lender that purports to be able to do things for you," Goff added.

"All of the stuff going on with the BBB has had to do with their impression that we are a forensic mortgage auditing company," responded Witman, referring to companies with dubious connections to attorneys who offer fraudulent "foreclosure rescue" audits.

"We are not a forensic mortgage auditing company," he insisted. "We are a standard accounting company. We have responded to everything the BBB has asked for, giving them very detailed descriptions of it. Thus far, the BBB has not been able to realize the difference between a forensic auditing company and a standard accounting company."

The Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) advised these are the signs of a mortgage audit or "rescue" scam:

* guarantees to stop a foreclosure, no matter the circumstances

* instructs the borrower not to contact the lender, lawyer, or credit/housing counselor

* collects a fee before providing any services & insists on payment only by cashier's check or wire transfer

* encourages the borrower to lease the home so the borrower can buy it back over time

* recommends the borrower make mortgage payments directly to it instead of the lender

* urges a transfer of the property deed or title

* offers to buy the borrower's house for cash at a fixed price that is inappropriate for that housing market

* pressures the borrower to sign papers the borrower hasn't had a chance to read or understand

Homeowners with concerns about their mortgages should attempt to settle those concerns directly with their lenders.

The Memphis Housing Counseling Network offers free mortgage counseling services from HUD-approved counselors. The number is 901-725-8361.

Other resources include the Fair Housing Center of Memphis Area Legal Services (www.malsi.org) and the Memphis Consumer Credit Education Association (www.mccea.net). 

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