Consumer Alert: Deceptive mortgage rate ads

June 21, 2013

Freelance musician Joe Mosello wanted a lower mortgage rate but says everywhere he turned, he was told he was a poor credit risk.

However then he got a tempting offer.

"They said that they could help us, and after hitting a brick wall with all these other banks and online things, we jumped at it," said Mosello.

Mosello says the company promised to get him a lower mortgage rate but asked for $3,500 up front.

"In most cases it is illegal for a company to charge you anything before they have offered you a loan deal in writing and you have accepted it," said Tobie Stanger, Consumer Reports.

The Federal Trade Commission is investigating deceptive mortgage ads. To warn consumers they have created fake ones based on real come-ons.

Some red flags include promises like guaranteed approval, low fixed rates with no details, or ads that look like they're from a government agency.

Graham Quinn, on the other hand, is a first-time home buyer.

"Once the mortgage went through and it was recorded with the city, we started getting these letters," said Quinn.

Letters that look official. One of them claimed to be from the Local Records Office in Harrisburg and instructed Graham to send in money to have his deed recorded.

"At first, I was definitely concerned. Was this part of the process I missed? You're signing so much paperwork during the mortgage process," said Quinn.

Quinn realized his deed had already been recorded and this was just a way to get his money.

Equally suspicious letters may look like bills and may offer something different. We've seen one that offers to obtain a copy of your deed and another that offers a special mortgage protection plan.

Whatever you receive, remember to read the fine print and show it to someone you know and trust.

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