Five companies accused of using deceptive practices to market mortgage modification and foreclosure rescue services have been hit with enforcement actions by the Federal Trade Commission, and warning letters have gone out to 71 others.

The companies often use copycat names or look-alike Web sites in an attempt to appear to be a nonprofit company or government entity, make deceptive claims about their success rates, and charge up-front fees, the FTC said in a press release.

The FTC announced it had filed complaints seeking restraining orders against three companies — Federal Loan Modifications Law Center, Bailout.hud-gov.us, and Home Assure (doing business as Expert Foreclosure). The FTC has also obtained temporary restraining orders and frozen the assets of two other companies, Hope Now Modifications LLC, and New Hope Property LLC, doing business as New Hope Modifications.

Another 71 companies are getting warning letters informing them that their ads may violate federal law. The Internet, direct mail, and spam advertisements contain potentially deceptive claims, and claim affiliation with homeowners’ lenders, with the HOPE NOW Alliance, or with federal government programs, the FTC said.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz and other state and federal officials warned consumers about these types of scams and encouraged them to seek out free, HUD-approved housing counselors for help with their mortgages.

The official site of the Obama administration’s "Making Home Affordable" refinance and loan modification program is www.MakingHomeAffordable.gov. An industry alliance of loan servicers provides assistance at www.HopeNow.com and through a toll-free hotline, (888) 995-4673.

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