After her appearance on Katie Couric's ABC daytime show "Katie" with Brian Ross Wednesday, Stephanie Zimmermann, The ABC News Fixer, took some viewers' questions and gave them advice on getting out of a jam.
The ABC News Fixer Answers Viewer Questions
Patricia M.: If you are looking for assistance with a bad mortgage, where your house is worth less than you owe, who is it safe to go to? There are many ads out there saying they can help, but after watching today I'm wondering if anyone can really help!
Dear Patricia: This is a tricky one. Many homeowners who've lost income in the recession are really struggling to make their monthly mortgage payments. But the mortgage modification process can be difficult. I've seen consumers put into "trial modifications" only to find out later that they didn't get approved.
Making things worse are the so-called "mortgage rescue" scammers, who simply collect money up-front from distressed homeowners and never provide the services they promise. Run from these people as fast as you can.
The most important thing is to be pro-active and not ignore the issue. Contact your lender and see if they'll work with you – remember, your bank would rather not take possession of your house because it's a huge hassle for them. Go to www.makinghomeaffordable.gov and www.HUD.gov for details about programs that might be available to you to keep you in your home, as well as referrals to reputable housing counselors in your area.
Kathy W.: My husband and I were scammed in a real estate fraud in Florida. They stole $29,000 when we were purchasing a residential condominium. We have tried everything, the state real estate commission, state business and finance department., lawyers, etc. and cannot get our money back. We were finally told by one attorney that we could spend more money than we would get back. Please help us. We are both retired and disabled and this was the last of our savings, which we desperately need.
Dear Kathy: What a nightmare -- $29,000 is not a small amount of money. I couldn't tell from your letter what sort of fraud was involved, but have you tried contacting any consumer authorities in Florida? The Florida Division of Consumer Services is at www.800helpfla.com/ and the Florida Attorney General's Office is at www.myfloridalegal.com. You should file complaints with both these agencies and ask about further assistance.
If you're still stuck, consider submitting your problem to the ABC News Fixer by clicking here.