Beware of Homeowner Assistance Fund scams, AG warns

Scam Alert

(Photo by OZAN KOSE/AFP via Getty Images)

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — New York Attorney General Letitia James today issued a consumer alert warning New Yorkers to be wary of scams related to the Homeowner Assistance Fund (HAF). The HAF is designed to assist homeowners who are experiencing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As New Yorkers continue to recover from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the last thing anyone needs is additional financial burden,” James said. “The Homeowner Assistance Fund is a critical program that provides a vital lifeline to individuals and helps remedy some of the hardship caused by this pandemic. It is unfortunate, however, that there are bad actors out there looking to potentially exploit the integrity of this crucial program just to line their own pockets.”

James has some suggestions for New Yorkers to avoid scams and other deceptive practices:

  • Applying for HAF is free, and homeowners are able to apply for HAF on their own with minimum documents needed. Homeowners should be cautious of anyone charging a fee to apply or promising funds. No individual or entity can guarantee you HAF funds.
  • It is illegal to request upfront fees for mortgage assistance. Even attorneys cannot request an upfront fee for mortgage assistance unless it is for “retainer” services and the attorney has filed a notice of appearance on your behalf in an active court case.
  • Be cautious of any online ads, telephone solicitations, or people coming to your door that promise you HAF funds or a mortgage modification.
  • Be careful of solicitations from people or companies with out-of-state phone numbers or addresses, especially for attorneys. Only lawyers admitted to practice in New York can represent you in court.
  • Do not give your personal financial information to an unrecognized caller, someone knocking on your door, or in response to an unexpected piece of mail.

New York State has since received nearly $540 million in HAF funding that is available to eligible New York homeowners.

For information on how to apply for HAF, you can visit New York State’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal’s (HCR) website. For free assistance with an application, you can visit New York State’s Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) website or call (855) 466-3456.

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