More governmental departments and organizations are investigating cases of mortgage fraud than ever before. While this is a good sign for potential victims, the sheer numbers of fraudulent cases make it difficult for even these agencies to follow-up on every case.
That makes these agencies excellent resources for consumers who believe they may have been victims of mortgage fraud or think they are being encouraged to engage in fraudulent activity. Many of the leading ones are listed below, along with information on their relative areas of expertise.
In addition to the agencies listed below, a significant role is also played by the U.S. Department of Justice, which took steps as the housing market declined in 2008 to form a national mortgage fraud task force to investigate and prosecute real estate- and mortgage-related crimes.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
The number of FBI agents investigating mortgage fraud more than doubled from 2006-2008, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller said. In fact the FBI case load for mortgage fraud has increased significantly since the housing bubble forced more homeowners into possible foreclosures.
The FBI has 56 field offices centrally located in major metropolitan areas across the U.S. and Puerto Rico. To contact your closest FBI office about a mortgage fraud case visit www.fbi.gov/contact/fo/fo.htm.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
The Federal Trade Commission in April 2009 announced a crackdown on fraud and deception by mortgage modification and home foreclosure rescue companies. The FTC is seeking to halt the proliferation of these mortgage relief scams through increased law enforcement and consumer outreach. The commission also plans close coordination with federal, state, and non-profit partners.
The Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection can be reached by calling 202-326-3224 or visiting www.ftc.gov for more information.
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac
While these two organizations came under fire in 2008-09for their role in creating the housing bubble in the United States, these two organizations can provide homeowners with good resources to fend off possible fraudulent activity.
The Fannie Mae Consumer Resource Center can be contacted by calling 1-800-7-FANNIE (1-800-732-6643), and the Freddie Mac Fraud Hotline can be reached at 800-4 FRAUD-8 (800-437-2838). In addition the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, managed by Fannie Mae, can be contacted by visiting http://www.fhfa.gov/.
U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD)
The HUD has a very informative website for those wishing to learn more about predatory mortgage activities and best practices for how they can be protected. The website is at www.hud.gov. For help by phone call (202) 708-1112. Local offices can be located by visiting www.hud.gov/localoffices.cfm.
This agency often assists the FBI and other federal agencies with mortgage fraud cases, particularly when they relates to mail fraud. It also has a very comprehensive website on a variety of fraudulent situations, both mortgage-related and other, at https://postalinspectors.uspis.gov. Phone numbers for local post offices can be found by visiting www.usps.com/ncsc/locators/find-is.html.
U.S. Secret Service
The Secret Service is sometimes called in to assist on a mortgage fraud investigation given its governmental contacts and investigation procedures. Representatives of the Secret Service have been involved in statewide and regional task forces to crack down on these illegal practices. The Financial Crimes Division (FCD) of the Secret Service plans, reviews, and coordinates criminal investigations involving an array of financial crimes.
Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC)
The SEC is another organization that will follow-up on fraudulent activities, although it is generally not one of the first agencies that consumers would contact about potential cases. Contact information is available by visiting www.sec.gov/contact/phones.htm.
There are also state mortgage fraud prevention agencies across the country. Many of these states have their own task forces, and host seminars to provide homeowners with information about how to prevent such fraud. Visit your state government web site or contact your state attorney general's office for more information.
In addition to federal laws and agencies that deal with mortgage fraud, each state has its own laws and institutions for addressing the issue. Foremost among these is usually the state attorney general's office, which takes the lead in investigating and prosecuting crimes of all sorts in a state. Other state agencies, such as real estate commissions and banking offices, may also be involved.
Each state also has local offices of various federal agencies that play a role in combating mortgage fraud, or that can serve as information resources for consumers, including the FBI, HUD and the U.S. Treasury Office of Thrift Supervision. National nonprofit organizations, such as the Fair Housing Alliance and Better Business Bureau, may be helpful as well.
The following 50 chapters provide a state-by-state overview of mortgage fraud resources, along with listings and contact information for federal, state and nonprofit entities that are available in each state. See the (links/pulldown menu) at (right, below, etc.) to go directly to the chapter on any given state.