In bad economic times, especially if you are having problems making your mortgage payments, there are things that you can do to try and legitimately help yourself out of your problems.  However, one of them is not to pay upfront fees to try and refinance your mortgage or other large debts.  Legitimate lenders don’t usually ask for a fee upfront. If there is an application or processing fee, it should be very small – not the hundreds or even thousands of dollars that con artists request.

Don’t fall for promises that you’ll get a loan regardless of your credit problems. If you have poor credit or haven’t established a good credit record yet, it’s unlikely that anyone will lend you money. Your credit history is one of the main things that legitimate lenders use to decide if you are a good credit risk.

  • Be cautious about emails offering to help you get a loan. Many unsolicited emails are fraudulent. 
  • Do business with licensed companies. Ask your state banking or finance department about the licensing requirements for lenders and loan brokers, and find out if the company has complied.  
  • If you can’t get a loan yourself, get a co-signer. A friend or relative may be willing to apply with you for a loan. You will both be equally responsible for the payments. 
  • Get all the costs and other details before you decide. Shop around for the best loan rates and fees. 
  • Have proof of what you were promised. Get the agreement in writing or in an electronic form that you can use to document the deal. 
  • If you have credit problems, get counseling. Your local Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) can provide advice about how to build a good credit record. The CCCS may also be able to make payment plans with your creditors if you’ve fallen behind. These services are offered for free or at a very low cost. To find the nearest CCCS office, call toll-free, 800-388-2227, or go to www.nfcc.org.