Homeowners, don't become a victim of a home equity scam! As a
homeowner, one of the most valuable assets you have is the equity in
your home. Your equity is the money you have paid over time towards
the cost of your home. Con artists may try different schemes to get
you to borrow against the value of your home or mortgage your equity
at outrageous interest rates. As a result, you may be unable to meet
the payments and could wind up losing your home!
It is important to know your rights so that you can avoid becoming a
victim of home equity fraud. These schemes could start with a phone
call or a knock on your door. You may be offered help with home
repairs or with work around the house at a seemingly reasonable
price. Be a smart consumer. Don't be fooled. You can take steps to
protect yourself and your home.
1. Don't hire a stranger until you have thoroughly checked his or her
references; ask for the names and telephone numbers of other
customers who have used the service.
2. Check with the Better Business Bureau or a local or state Office
of Consumer Affairs to see whether or not complaints have been filed
against the person or business you are considering.
3. Never sign anything without carefully checking it and be sure you
understand and agree to all provisions in a contract or agreement.
4. Never rely on someone to explain parts of an agreement to you
unless it is someone you know and trust. Read the fine print for
5. It is not a good idea to pay for repairs in advance. Be sure the
work is completed to your satisfaction before you make the final
6. Talk to a housing counselor about options available to you; most
areas have knowledgeable people who can help you evaluate your choice
and make the best decision. You can find a housing counselor by
calling your local legal services office or housing department.
Be informed. Get all the facts before entering into any agreement. If
you think you have been a victim of a scam involving home equity
fraud, contact your Attorney General's office. For more information
on Home Equity Fraud and Home Repair Scams, please ask for AARP's
Senior Consumer Alert on Home Improvement Rip-offs (D14846) or Senior
Consumer Alert on Home Equity Scams (D12842), published by the
Consumer Affairs Section.
They are available without charge from AARP Fulfillment, 601 E
Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20049, tel 800-424-3410.
Copyright 1994 by the American Association of Retired Persons.
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