Foreclosure Fears Keep Consumers Seeking Help.Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Foreclosures are at record numbers, and many people lose their homes because they seek help too late or, in some cases, don’t seek help at all.

“Fear prevents many consumers from seeking help,” said Suzanne Boas, president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS) of Greater Atlanta, Inc. “Overcoming these fears can mean the difference between staying in your home and losing it.”

CCCS counselors can address some of the common fears homeowners have about seeking help:

Fear: Homeowners are afraid to let the mortgage company know they are having a problem because they think it will speed up the foreclosure process.

Contacting your lender is an important first step if you want to save your home from foreclosure. It provides you with an opportunity to explain why you have fallen behind on your payments and what steps you are taking to get back on track. Lenders have a financial interest in keeping you in your home and may be willing to alter the terms of your loan or devise a repayment plan.

Fear: Homeowners fear being judged by others for seeking help.

These are challenging financial times. While it may feel like you are the only one struggling, the reality is that many of your friends and neighbors are also finding it difficult to stay afloat. By seeking help, you will not only increase your chances of avoiding foreclosure, you may also serve as an inspiration to others.

Fear: Homeowners facing foreclosure fear that their situation is hopeless.

For homeowners facing foreclosure, the feelings of hopelessness and despair can be overwhelming. While for some, seeking help may mean saving their home, it is inevitable that some homeowners will end up in foreclosure. A certified housing counselor can help homeowners work through the foreclosure and build a new path for long term financial success.

Fear: Companies saying they can save you from foreclosure are all a scam.

While there are unscrupulous businesses looking to take advantage of homeowners, there are also many HUD-approved housing counseling agencies that offer help for struggling consumers. CCCS provides free counseling for homeowners and helps them explore alternatives to foreclosure. Counselors will review their current financial situation, explain options that may be available through their lender and, in some cases, contact the lender on behalf of the homeowner. CCCS works with the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, which runs a toll-free hotline to provide counseling for borrowers: 888.995.HOPE (4673). You can also get more information online at www.995hope.org.

About CCCS

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Atlanta is a 501(c)3 nonprofit community-service agency that provides confidential budget counseling, money management education, debt management programs, bankruptcy counseling and education, and comprehensive housing counseling. The agency serves nearly 400,000 consumers, who are primarily from low- and moderate-income households, in all 50 states.

Consumers can speak to counselors in English and Spanish 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, by phone at 800.251.2227, and also access the agency’s web sites, www.CredAbility.org and www.CredAbility.org/es where live-chat counselors are available around the clock. The agency’s web site also provides free interactive seminars and other online education courses through CredAbility U.