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Latest Scam Reports
 

Fake Debt Collectors – Taking it to a whole new level!

During my whole time as the administrator of callercenter.com I’ve never come across a scam like this. The magnitude and viciousness of “fake debt collector” scam is simply astonishing!

All across north america people are getting calls from scammers who pretend to be debt collectors. They verbally abuse victims and say things like “I’ll come to your job and arrest you myself” or “I’ll drag you out by your feet from your work”. They even threaten to arrest the whole family if the fake debt is not paid.

With scams like “Fake lottery winnings” the criminals assumed a role of a benevolent lottery agent with a happy voice and a friendly demeanor.

NOT with this one!

This scam allows them to show their true evil colors and they don’t even have to act.

I was exchanging emails with a poor lady from Virginia who was convinced that she was going to get arrested. The fraudsters even called the victim’s sister and neighbours (god knows where they got that information).

Even after telling her that it’s a scam more than 5 times she wouldn’t believe me. All she could see was fear. It got to a point where I picked up the phone and called her myself. I told her to call the police and not to worry about it.

I think past a certain age people become extremely trusting and get very easily intimidated. The point of the story is that if you have an elderly relative you should call them and tell them about this scam. Let’s hope that someone makes some high profile arrests in these cases and that people like Kirit Patel do some serious jail time, instead of getting away with a fine (more about this in the ABC news report).

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Bogus Summer Job Offers

It’s summer and bogus jobs are on the rise again, just like during any other time of the year. Although this is largely due to the economic setback people are experiencing, it can’t be denied that this is also a result of the government claiming numerous jobs to be available when they really aren’t. This is difficult especially on students who take advantage of summer breaks to earn money for college or high school expenses.

Recently, a reader shared this experience about falling for a fake job advertisement and having to suffer dire consequences.

“I have been applying for jobs everywhere and was thrilled when I did not only get an interview, but was also hired. At the time, I was told I would need to purchase some equipment required of the position and was given a list. The company’s representative informed me that a check would be issued for this purpose, which sounded okay to me. After the check arrived, I received an email from the company stating that the amount on the check was in excess. However, to save time, the company wanted me to deposit the check into my account anyway and just refund them the difference by wiring the money back to them right away, which I followed without question. Well, it took a few days for the check to clear but then when the time came, it bounced back from the bank. I discovered the job offer was bogus as well as the company. I was already out of the amount I wired but I had to shoulder the bank charges for the fraud check, too. Needless to say, when I tried to reach the company again, it had vanished without a trace.”

Another common bogus summer job offer is the door-to-door selling of magazine subscriptions, art works, or other similar items. Below is a report on this topic from one of our readers:

“In order to earn money for school, I joined a company where I went door to door selling products and subscriptions. I was to receive a small commission on every sale I make, given to me after the company got the payment and processed the sale. However, it turned out that I was actually selling non-existent products and subscriptions. The bad part was, I sold to neighbors and friends. The worst part was, since that was an illegal activity, I could be held personally and financially responsible for everything I sold. So I fully cooperated with the police. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find the guy who hired me in the first place. I guess he moved onto other suckers.”

In addition to that, there is also this scam called Re-shipping that has increased in popularity this summer. It can easily get an innocent employee into trouble. Well, how the scam works is simple. For a certain amount of money, an individual receives a package, re-packages it, and forwards it to a foreign address. This is not related to drug sales, though. It could be toys, clothes, household items, or just anything. However, there is no way of knowing if the item being shipped is stolen or something illegal. The bad thing about this is that the re-shipper is just as guilty as the other parties involved and can be held accountable in a court of law.

This is why everybody is encouraged to be careful and cautious when applying for short-term jobs during summer. Be aware that summer job scams usually have telltale signs and it’s important to look for these clues:

• Easy money. The pay appears to be too good to be real.
• No qualifications or references required.
• Vague job description. In other words, the company will not provide details about the specific position.
• Cell phone or email contacts only. You are not provided with a physical address or any other way to contact the employer.
• Personal information needs to be kept personal. If a potential employer asks for too much information when you are first contacted, be wary.
• English, grammar, or spelling errors in job description.
• Offer appears out of the blue without you job hunting.
• Money must be paid up-front for supplies or any other reason. Legitimate employers pay you, you don’t pay them.

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Phone Cramming

One of the things that you may be experiencing, without being aware of it, is phone cramming. This is where recurring charges for services you did not order or use are directly added to your phone bill. Ordinarily you receive a telephone bill and pay it without a second glance. In this high tech world of cell phones, internet bundles, Ipods, and other similar services, the thought of unauthorized charges added to a phone bill does not occur to the average consumer.

Ever received a call to renew your free online yellow pages listing that you never authorized in the first place? Ever entered an online drawing for a flat screen TV? Ever got a phone bill that you felt had bogus charges? If so, you may have been a victim of “phone cramming.” This shady practice allows telemarketers or online vendors to add charges to your landline phone bill without you ever knowing you signed up for a service.

In addition to that, 3rd party scammers also take advantage and use your phone bill as a way to get you to pay for something you never requested or used. Just last year, third party billing generated over $2 billion in business. Unfortunately, and amazingly, 950 per 1,000 customers were not aware of these unauthorized charges on their bill.

Consumer organizations, as well as the State and the government, now realize that this has become a real problem. The companies involved add charges for services such as voice mail, calling cards, extended warranties, credit repair, extra e-mail, ‘special’ voice mails, and text messaging; they use toll-free numbers for free long distance calls that aren’t really free; and any other charge imaginable. These, of course, increase the total bill of the consumer.

This is not a new practice. In fact, it has become disturbingly easy for businesses to do with the increased use of electronics. It has been going on even before 1997 yet overlooked because the fees are often very small on a per-bill basis and not noticeable even to those who carefully review a lengthy phone bill. It is anticipated that mobile cramming will become an even bigger problem as more people leave land line communication systems in favor of mobile devices. Here are a couple of stories from some women who reported their problems to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

I’m from Port St. Lucie, FL and was shocked when I saw an obscure $13.97 charge on my phone bill for voicemail. When I called to question the charge, I was told that my husband had ordered it. I told the company that was impossible since my husband had died three months before. They said they would refund the amount, but I’m still waiting and it’s been over a year.

I’ve spent nine months trying to remove an $11.01 charge on my phone for web-hosting services I never ordered. I don’t even know what web-hosting is so why would I order it? I think it’s been long enough. Can you help get my money back?

The efforts of the regulators from both the FCC and the FTC to force phone companies to make bills easier for customers to read and truly understand are helping. These are called “Truth-in-Billing” rules and have been credited with at least helping consumers identify charges they did not authorize, although it has not helped improve the refunding system. In an attempt to restrict this practice even further, just this week, the FCC unveiled new rules that would require providers to create a separate list for any additional charge added to a bill. Also, regulators have been going after companies behind bogus charges that have yielded some of the largest penalties and consumer refunds on record. The FCC recently fined four long-distance companies $11.7 million for placing cramming charges on consumers’ bills.

However, despite all these efforts, cramming continues. The bottom line is that it’s up to you to check your landline phone bill carefully. See if there is any charge you don’t recognize, and if there is, call your phone company stat, and have it removed. This goes for any type of landline bill, whether it is business or personal.

On a legislative level, Attorney General Lisa Madigan states that the fight will continue. Recently she introduced a bill – HB5211 – which would prohibit third party vendors and billing agencies from submitting unauthorized third party charges to local phone companies for billing.

“Unfortunately, fines and refunds are just a cost of business for many of these third-party scammers” Madigan recently stated. “The profit they make usually far exceeds any penalties or fines they have to pay back. If we want to stop cramming, we have to take the profit out of it. The penalties have to be harsh enough to deter vendors. We also have to ensure that telephone companies know when third-party charges are bogus and they have the proper incentives to avoid doing business with these scammers.”

Reporting all bogus charges to the FCC and the FTC is a step consumers can take to help stop these illegal practices.

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Credit Card Skimming

One of the most serious threats to your finances today is called credit card skimming. This is a situation where a machine is used to read your card information and record your pin while you’re using your card with a reliable business. These devices are found largely in service stations where credit and debit cards are used to purchase gas, snacks, and auto supplies. Fraud artists attach a machine called an electronic skimmer to the gasoline pump that does not only read your credit card number but your pin number as well, while the owner remains none-the-wiser.

Needless to say, this opens a can of worms regarding your personal finances. By using the card and pin number gleaned from this device, false identification cards can be quickly issued, allowing perpetrators to obtain information regarding your bank account, as well as your personal information that can be used to make other types of transactions possible. These crooks work fast and have been known to strip bank accounts of thousands of dollars in just one day. In addition to that, they can issue checks, make countless purchases, and create new lines of credit. In general, they can cause financial catastrophe in your name. Unfortunately, once this happens, it often takes months or even years to straighten things out.

Unfortunately, there is no way to determine when a skimmer is in use. Here’s a story from a local newspaper in Lawrenceville, GA where this happened and the police are now asking for help to resolve the problem.

If you’ve dined at Footprints Cafe and paid with a debit or credit card, Lawrenceville Police are asking you to double check your statements. Over the weekend, police arrested Laura-Grace Tanis, a waitress at the restaurant. According to a police report, Tanis used a portable electronic skimmer to capture information from customers’ credit cards. She was charged with Financial Credit Card Theft and Criminal Possession of a Financial Transaction Card Forgery Device. Tanis has only been charged with one count so far, but Lawrenceville police are looking into whether this was an isolated incident or was part of a larger operation. Investigators are following leads that may show it was in fact a more extensive network of people involved in the card skimming scheme. If you should find something amiss, please contact Lawrenceville Police Detectives at (770) 963-2443.

In June the FBI arrested 24 credit card hackers which included two dozen people in 13 countries. Unfortunately, this is just the tip of the iceberg. In order to protect your credit and identity, the FBI recommends individuals stay alert and follow some simple rules:

• Keep your credit cards in sight at all times. Unfortunately, this alone will not work where a gas pump is ‘rigged’ with one of these devices. Restaurants are also where this frequently occurs. An answer to this concern is to pay cash.
• Always monitor your receipts against your statements as well as carefully check the receipt when paying to make sure there are no additional charges that were not authorized.
• Shred all papers that involve any financial solicitations or reports that are not kept and filed in a secure location.

If you find you have been scammed you should:

• Notify the police and retain the report number.
• Notify your credit card company and bank immediately and request all account numbers be changed. Under federal law you can only be held liable for $50 of unauthorized charges.
• Inform the three major credit bureaus so that they can notify any company requesting credit information. A good place to visit is www.annualcreditreport.com. A federal law established this site to provide free annual credit reports as well as monitor this type of theft and provide a place where people can report any suspicious activity on their accounts.
In this era of economic distress and increased electronic use, the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit has documented an increase in all types of scams that include the use of illegal electronic skimmers. This makes it important that consumers remain alert at all times.

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Fake Photo Modeling Offers Promoted By Phone By Illegal Telemarketers

A new scam on the market is the bogus photo modeling jobs offered to young women via the telephone. Illegal telemarketers rely on the vulnerability of the younger generation. They offer to develop portfolios, provide company cards which will supposedly make you a hit to modeling agencies and get the career of a lifetime. To create this portfolio, the person contacted is required to go to a certain studio to have the portfolio filled with impressive pictures. These pictures are paid out-of-pocket. Although you may get some great pictures out of the deal, this is not how talent agencies work. The money for this type of program simply goes into a con-artist’s pocket.

Of course, everyone is excited when they see the pictures of models featured in magazines, on television, and so forth. It is obvious they are in a profession they like and make a lot of money from it. One of the newest versions of this scam is to sell online modeling school courses. It requires filling out registration forms and a ‘registration fee’. In most cases, after the money is gone, so is the ‘school’.

There are bundles of questionable model and talent agencies as well as agents. This has become prominent especially when TV programs started to show ordinary girls advancing to become famous in the fashion industry such as in America’s Top Model. Would you be surprised to learn that there are only 12, yes that is 12, highly paid professional models in the United States? While there are numerous models in the industry, only a few become famous or earn high pay.

Here is a complaint we received recently that talked about the problem faced by a teen looking for a modeling career.

Wilhelmina Scouting Network, which is sometimes called Trans Continental Talent, is a scam and the people running it have been doing it for years under different names and in different cities. When they get shut down, they move on and do it again. If you’ve been to the office in Philly or Feasterville you’ve probably met Mike O’Brien or one of his associates. I went to an open call near the King of Prussia Mall and they took my picture, assessed me, and encouraged me to make the $1000 payment. I was told I was a 9 on a scale from 1-10. They said the money was to have my profile put on their website and maintained for prospective modeling agencies to request my service. I was under extreme pressure and had not had enough time to fully research the company when they called me back two days later and demanded that I make the payment immediately or else I would not be able to be on the website and begin my prosperous modeling career. The original presentation given by the Talent Executive Mike O’Brien, convinced me that the $1000 was the best deal that I could get, given the exorbitant price for head shots and portfolios. I also believed that I would get work in no time and be able to pay off the credit card within a very short time. However, the website stopped working about halfway into the year. I started calling their headquarters in Florida, but received a busy signal each time. It was then that I knew that they had exploited my modeling ambition and had duped me out of $1000 plus the $20 maintenance fee for my online profile. I still have the email they sent me once I signed up with them. I would really appreciate any help that can be sent my way to be refunded the $1000. Really, nothing good can come from associating yourself with this company. They have enough smoke and mirrors to create a pretty convincing front, just like many others do, but it is a deceitful business and if their tactics aren’t downright illegal they are unquestionably immoral. Don’t waste your money or your time.

Be aware that the best way to avoid scams such as this is to thoroughly educate oneself about the industry. Be realistic about your chances, and realize that very few people actually make it to the big leagues. If you have what it takes, a reputable agency will not charge you to establish a portfolio, find jobs, and make the necessary contacts to get you to the top quickly. Furthermore, check out modeling communities such as Models.com for legit agency listings and make calls to find out if there are open castings with reputable companies that have been thoroughly researched. And most importantly, stay persistent and level-headed. Don’t trust anything that sounds too good to be true.

For those who feel they may have become a victim of a scam, file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Although the BBB is not a U.S. government agency and has no authority, its database is networked with the FTC and other law enforcement agencies. In other words, the FTC can refer to the BBB’s database in their investigation. As a matter of fact, FTC has previously accessed BBB files. They did this before they prosecuted three scam modeling and talent agencies in Virginia. Indeed the BBB files precipitated the launch of the FTC investigation. Instead of becoming a part of the problem, become the force and help in finding a solution.

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Joplin Missouri Disaster Brings Out Scammers

When a national disaster strikes there is a lot to think about. You have to think about your health and safety as well as your family, property, home, car, and everything in it. The last thing you would expect to have to think about is someone scamming you. Actually when a disaster, or other kind of devastation, happens scammers and thieves
will come out of the wood work.

These con artists know you are desperate for help and will except it from anyone willing to offer it. But not everyone is actually trying to help you. Some are trying to get your information, money, or your property.

In one case a person was “kind” enough to help out the survivors of a tornado which recently hit Joplin, Missouri by letting them camp out on one of his vacant properties. He then brought out a drilling and plumbing team in order to supply water and built a place to shower and retrieve the water to cook and clean with. The campers were really excited
until they realized he was charging them to use his water, then charging them to use the shower itself. When people went to the authorities they were told that, unfortunately, since they were on his property if they used his water and his facilities they would have to pay. When they told the authorities that they were placed here and it wasn’t their choice to be here, they were told that this kind of thing happens and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it.

In another instance some people offered to cash checks for individuals or run errands never to be seen or heard from again. In all the chaos it may seem like God himself has sent a savior to help you out but, unfortunately, frequently that ends up not being the case.

When a disaster strikes there are many basic rules that should take precedence such as never give anyone a check, cash, or credit cards to “run errands” for you. Ask the individual to take you personally then you will know if they are seriously there to help or to take advantage of you. Most scammers will try to avoid taking you anywhere with them unless they want to hurt you.

During a disaster it is hard to remember what to do so you need to prepare ahead of time. Have a fireproof safe for all of your important papers and maybe even a credit card or cash that is only to be used for this purpose. Make a list of everything of value in your home and give it to your insurance company. Make a list of all your medications and give a copy to a family member. Make a disaster preparedness kit just in case something happens. A bag or backpack with first aid equipment, water, and other emergency equipment will go a long way when trying to avoid becoming a victim when under extreme duress.

If you are prepared you are less likely to be scammed. The scammers will see someone who is not desperate and move on to someone who is obviously vulnerable. Remember that during an emergency, help is on the way it just may take some time to get there. Legitimate help will not ask for anything in return and won’t try to charge you for simple

services. If something is offered it’s important to determine if there will be strings attached. Never give anyone your cash, your credit card, or your checks. Instead seek out places that are organized by emergency response teams. These people are truly trying to help you and won’t be charging it for you after you receive services.

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Wrong Charges Return Scam

It seems the more research that is done into wrongful charge return scams, the more variety can be found. More and more people are being told that they are owed money due to wrongful charges. They are then asked to send a small fee in order to receive the check in the amount of the overpayment. If a company calls you and says you need to send them money in order to get money, you need to hang up. No company who is legitimate would request money in order to send money that was rightfully yours to begin with.

One of the most frequently seen of these types of scams is where an individual calls to say that each time a bill was paid using a card, an overcharge of $10 to $20 accrued. It is further explained that since this has been going on for some time, an enormous amount of money is due to the customer. It seems the amount usually quoted is around $5000 which, the customer is assured, has already been written and signed and is ready to go in the mail.

The twist is that in order to get the check, administrative and processing fees of a couple of hundred dollars must be paid in advance. When challenged, the con artist will explain that taking the fees from the check before it’s sent isn’t possible since it’s already been written and the amount paid must go into a different account from the one from which the check was drawn. Although it sounds plausible, the old adage “if it sounds too good to be true it usually is” should raise concerns.

A second indication that a scam may be going on is that the money is requested through an electronic transfer such as Western Union or MoneyGram. This is because, even though the location of the receiver may be noted on the form, in actuality it can be picked up anyway one of these offices may be found. Although the destination given by the thief may be Springfield, Missouri, it can even be drawn on a branch in Nigeria since they also have a Western Union office. Unfortunately, these electronic transfer companies cannot be held responsible for misdirection of funds since they indicate in their terms and conditions that the money can be collected from any branch in the world within minutes.

Just to ensure validity, many of these scammers will include business names and phone numbers which also turn out to be fraudulent. According to the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit, international scams are especially hard to shut down and the perpetrators are rarely caught. Once identified their host websites can shut them down within a matter of minutes, but this doesn’t mean that they don’t have other sites running. Additionally, they can start a new site with minimum effort within about 10 minutes and rarely have to pay upfront. These sites are often used for phishing expeditions in which they acquire enough personal information about consumers to make the con sound legitimate.

In one case, people ordered items from a legitimate website, but a hacker gained access to customer orders. Even though card numbers were secure, they did acquire the names of financial institutions issuing the cards along with the last four digits of each card used and customer names, locations, phone numbers, and even addresses. In reciting this information to customers they contacted, there was no reason to believe their financial institution was not on the other end of the line resulting in thousands of victims worldwide.

For those confused by the number and variety of scams currently ruining the lives of many people throughout the world, it’s important to remember that just because home computers connect you to the world, does not guarantee confidentiality. They should only be used as a tool with the understanding that once personal data goes into space, anyone may be able to gain access to the information you hold most dear.

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Bc Local News

Just applied to become a guest blogger on http://blogs.bclocalnews.com. I’m vert excited about this opportunity to be able to spread the word about the latest phone scams outside of callercenter.com

Really hope they accept me, got my fingers crossed!

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Adipose RX Scam Alert!

As if people thought all scams could be easily identified, now there’s a new one that has cropped up that’s wreaking havoc on unsuspecting consumers across the nation. This one, however, is a more complicated than what is normally encountered. One of only 28 names the company goes by, Adipose RX dispenses diet pills to people who have not ordered them then charges debit and credit cards on a monthly basis.

Most people become aware that they have been scammed only after receiving a credit card bill that contains bogus charges. Although the pills received have an 800 number on the bottle, contact leads to little help and since the transfer of money has now been moved out of the country, recouping losses is extremely difficult. As complaints began piling up, researchers have attempted to track the money in order to determine the originators.

Adipose RX is registered through godaddy.com which was last updated January 5, 2009. However, domain information has been cloaked since December 2009. In addition to the cost of the bottle of pills, customers are also automatically signed up for a health membership costing $72 per month. Although ground zerio for this company was Utah and Nevada, their billing is now actually out of the East Caribbean which is known for their lax rules regulating banking as well as their involvement in money laundering.

According to Broadband DSL Reports, three people are primarily responsible for originating this company; Brian Avondet, Randall McKim, and Todd Stadig. One of the other site names they acquired was grantuniversity.com and are currently facing a lawsuit by the original owner, Cameron McPherson, for misusing the domain for fraudulent purposes. Although the original charges to accounts came out of Utah in January, by February they had gone international primarily because there are no rules governing Internet transactions on an international level.

It is surprising that this could happen over and over again, but the problem is not with individual computer systems but, rather, with credit card companies and transaction processors. As Internet users, individuals rely on the security provided by those with whom business is conducted. Credit and debit card numbers, therefore, are acquired through phishing expeditions acquired by hacking into banks, stores, credit card issuers, and transaction clearing houses. When thinking about how many times personal information is input into this electronic marvel over which individuals have no control, it is surprising this does not happen more often.

One way to tell if an individual has been the unwitting victim of the Adipose RX scam is to review credit card billing on a regular basis. With this fraud there will be an additional fee posted for international processing. Additionally, reference to the bank charging the fee will include the code KNA which stands for St. Kitts and Nevis. This is actually where the acquirer merchant and bank are located; specifically 642 Main Street, Charlestown, Nevis, East Caribbean.

For those who believe they are the victims of fraud the best thing to do is notify the bank and credit card company in order to request the paperwork required to file fraud charges. Although it may take some time to recoup the money, it will then be the responsibility of the financial institution to track the perpetrators and attempt to recover the money. Most importantly, you should never try to deal with the scammers yourself or you may end up losing your identity as well as your money.

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National Load Restructuring Scam

With today’s economic conditions and many people facing foreclosure on their homes, there are a number of scams in play. One of these is called ‘National Loan Restructuring’. No one wishes to lose their home and everyone wants to restructure their current mortgage with one that calls for lowering their monthly payments to one they can afford. Unfortunately, this type of scam has been fueled by various government announcements regarding restructuring a home loan.

In short, the way this scam works is that an individual will be contacted, often by telephone, with a message that they are working with Obama’s directive for lenders to restructure people’s mortgages. Unfortunately, many people think this is a legitimate company that will work with them to achieve the goal of saving a home from foreclosure. Emphasis is made that this directive is for a limited time only and one must act promptly to qualify for the program.

The contact this company uses what is called ‘cold calling’ which is done with a robot caller. The company actually has no information on anyone’s mortgage or their financial position. This robot caller makes the pitch about helping with a mortgage and then the person receiving the call is instructed to call the company directly.

A number of people have heard mention of Obama’s directive, but are in the dark as to how to implement it to help resolve their current situation. The idea that someone can relieve their problems regarding huge monthly mortgage payments and interest seems like the answer to their prayers regarding the possibility of saving their home but, in fact, it is a scam.

Unfortunately, this company, as well as others, take advantage of a person’s situation, collects an ‘up-front fee,’ and gives nothing in return. As a result, many thousands of dollars are paid out for what is called a mortgage-foreclosure consultation, loan-modification, or foreclosure-assistance service. It has been proven that none of these so called ‘foreclosure relief’ claims will do anything to assist consumers.

These companies claim that by auditing the mortgage to see if the lender is complying with state and federal mortgage-lending laws can help them negotiate with lenders on behalf of homeowners. They claim that by using this leverage it is possible to speed up the loan-modification process. There is no statistical data or other evidence that this will help homeowners or bring any foreclosure relief.

California’s Department of Real Estate (DRE) and the State Bar have issued a warning for Californians in order to help them avoid being involved with companies that make these claims. The Attorney General issued a warning for consumers to avoid forensic loan audits, the loan-modification industry’s latest phony foreclosure relief service and states that “The foreclosure-relief industry continues to be long on promises, but short on results”.

California’s law requires all individual and businesses offering mortgage-foreclosure consulting or other services of this type must register with the state and provide a $100,000 dollar bond. The law also states that it is illegal to require up-front fees for their services.

As a result, the state has shut down more than 30 fraudulent companies and applied criminal charges with lengthy prison sentences for a large number of consultants. In 2009 more than 2,000 complaints involving this scam were filed with the State’s Attorney General’s office, with nearly 350 individuals and companies issued a Desist and Refrain Order to stop their illegal activity.

With 22 percent of the nation involved in foreclosure activity and 632,573 California homes in foreclosure, the state has issued public warnings about these companies and their illegal practices. Non-profit housing counselors, which are certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, provide free help to homeowners and can be located on the Internet.

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