State Attorney General Hector Balderas is warning of a “dangerous new scam” that is targeting New Mexicans who are having trouble paying their mortgages.
“Do not pay Ocwen mortgage payments by Moneygram in response to ‘Making Home Affordable’ offer letters or calls,” he said in a news release, referring to Ocwen Financial Group. “This is a scam … ”
How it works: Consumers get a letter offering them a “trial payment plan” or loan modification, and they’re given a phone number to make the payments.
“Ocwen has investigated the matter and determined that third-parties are posing as Ocwen employees to obtain payment from consumers,” the alert says.
Beware if you get a call about this. The callers at times will spoof an Ocwen phone number, often in the 214 area code, Balderas said. Consumers who have questions about their home loan can contact the real Ocwen at 800-746-2936. If you’re hit by the scam, call the AG’s Consumer Protection Division at 505-222-9100 or 1-800-678-1508.
Happy holidays – from the Scrooges, the stealthy scammers and the off-shore Santas who are out in force this season looking to separate you from your money.
With a little caution, though, you can avoid a holiday of heartache. Whether you’re shopping by phone, mail or online, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- If you’re thinking about using shopping apps, be aware the apps can collect personal information, such as your name, address, phone number, email and Social Security number. Try to find apps that tell you what they do with your data and how they keep it secure.
- Beware of using a store’s free Wi-Fi, whether to comparison shop or for any purpose. Those with nefarious intentions can get onto those networks and steal credit card numbers or other information. Particularly, don’t use free networks to check bank account information.
- A holiday basic: when shopping online, keep copies of your order number, the refund and return policies, shipping costs and warranties. You’ll want these in case the package never arrives.
- During this season, there’s a spike in phishing scams in which someone tries to get your personal information online. Watch for emails that offer great deals on holiday gifts or fund-raising pitches from bogus non-profits. Also watch for this: fake emails supposedly sent by online retailers or shippers such as FedEx, saying your payment didn’t go through, or that an order didn’t ship. Avoid clicking on links in these emails because they could contain malware or take you to a fake website that appears to a legitimate company. If you do think an email is legitimate, go directly to the company website instead.
- Monitor your accounts during and after the holidays. Also, limit or – better yet – avoid any use of your debit card this time of year. You could see your savings vanish if hackers gain access to your number.
- And, finally, the familiar mantra: If it looks to good to be true … well, you know the rest. During a time when we’re all inundated with shopping deals, it’s imperative to put common sense front and center. If you see an outrageously good deal in your email or on a Web ad, be very skeptical. It could very well be a bogus offer that’s aimed at getting you to reveal your credit card number. Instead, check out where the offer is coming from and go directly to that business’ website.
Ellen Marks is assistant business editor. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-823-3842 if you are aware of what sounds like a scam. To report a scam to law enforcement, contact the New Mexico Consumer Protection Division toll-free at.