How to spot loan-mod fraud

Check with state agency to avoid scammers

Equity skimming, illegal property flipping, foreclosure rescue scams — and now, say hello to the newcomer on the fraud block: The home-loan modification scam.

"There’s no evidence that the same companies or the same people are involved," said Deborah Bortner, director of consumer services for the Washington state Department of Financial Institutions (DFI). "But the intent is about the same — they are looking to take people’s money."

State agencies like DFI were established to regulate and examine a variety of state-chartered financial services. The agencies also provide education and outreach to protect consumers from financial fraud. Given the peaks and valleys of real estate and mortgage banking, the agency has had its hands full.