How to avoid foreclosure

A tidal wave of anxiety is washing over America, propelled by the mortgage industry collapse. BLOOMBERG NEWS

Worried about losing your house? This advice might help:

If you lose your job and know you’ll have trouble making your mortgage payments, call your lender immediately and follow up in writing. Above all, don’t ignore letters from the lender.

Stay in your home as long as possible. If you move out and the home is vandalized, the bank can charge you a fee to repair the damage.

Beware of predators. One red flag is someone who wants a fee upfront for something you can do yourself or get for free. For instance, if you’re having trouble getting through to your lender on the phone, don’t pay someone else to call. Ask yourself, “Is anyone going to profit from this?” If the answer is yes, proceed with caution. See whether a nonprofit group can help you first.

Under no circumstance should you sign over your house to someone who agrees to pay the mortgage until you get back on your feet. This is one of the most common scams going, and it typically ends with you renting back your home until the new owner decides to sell and evicts you.

Know whether a short-term fix will give you the time you need to catch up on your payments. Several programs offer one-time assistance, often only for a single month. They might only postpone the inevitable.

Use a Housing and Urban Development-approved foreclosure-prevention counselor. To check credentials, call 1-800-569-4287 or go to

On the Web, see;; and, the government-led alliance of lenders, mortgage servicers, investors and advocacy groups.

The Orlando Sentinel