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State banking agency warns of mortgage help scams

MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Banking Department is warning consumers to be wary of companies or individuals that offer to help them change the terms of mortgage loans.

Banking Department officials said Thursday that due to current economic conditions there has been an increase in the number of home owners seeking to modify the terms of their loans. Modifications could allow a loan to be reinstated or reduce the amount of the borrower’s payments.

Officials say some individuals or companies charge up front fees and promise a 100 percent success rate. In fact, officials say some loans cannot be modified, and the agency says companies may not charge up-front or advance fees under Alabama law.

Consumers can verify whether a company is licensed as a mortgage broker by going to the banking department Web site or calling 1-866-465-2279.