Freddie Mac Issues Warning to Homebuyers About Credit Score Scams

WASHINGTON – Nov. 10, 2015 – Freddie Mac issued a warning for homebuyers about scams that entice them by promising to raise their credit score in exchange for money.

“Who doesn’t want the highest credit score possible to garner the most-favored terms?” Freddie Mac notes on its website. “For many Americans with consumer credit negatively impacted by the housing crisis and fluctuating economy, it’s easy to be lured by the promise of a raised credit score,” Freddie Mac says. “Schemes that falsely raise credit scores will land borrowers in scalding hot water – as well as cost you time and money combating both origination- and servicing-related fraud.”

Freddie Mac highlighted three types of common fraud schemes to raise credit scores:

1. Disputing credit with credit bureaus
A new program with FICO – called FICO Score Open Access for Credit & Financial Counseling – was created to help borrowers who have credit management problems by providing FICO Scores along with credit education material to help consumers understand credit scoring and learn more about financial management. However, some fraudsters are using the program in a scam.

“(Scammers) may direct a borrower to contact credit repositories repeatedly to dispute previously defaulted debt,” Freddie Mac warns. “The fraudster hopes the creditor will miss responding to one of the disputes and the defaulted debt will disappear temporarily, triggering a jump in the borrower’s credit score. The borrower may qualify for – and close on – a new mortgage before the credit report correctly reflects the defaulted debt and the borrower’s true credit score.”

2. Claiming identity theft falsely
Some companies encourage buyers to falsely claim identity theft on their loan application in order to have debt removed from their credit report.

“Some borrowers who falsely claimed identify theft have gone as far as providing affidavits of identity theft and police reports,” Freddie Mac writes. “Of course, lenders take these claims seriously and investigate. In some instances, they discover that the ‘police report’ is fake, never actually filed, or from a police department that doesn’t exist.”

3. Misusing credit protection numbers
Using a credit privacy number – an alternative for a Social Security number most commonly used by celebrities and politicians to hide previous credit issues – can be a dangerous move.

“Some consumers with poor credit acquire a CPN with the intent of creating a new, clean – and misleading – credit profile,” Freddie Mac notes. “CPNs were not created for this purpose, and mortgage loans originated using a CPN are ineligible for sale to Freddie Mac. Borrowers who use a CPN with the hope of leaving their bad credit histories in the rear view mirror are in for a rude awakening.”

As the Federal Trade Commission bluntly points out, “By using a stolen number as your own, the con artists have involved you in identity theft,’ for which you may face legal trouble.”

Source: “Freddie Mac Issues Credit-Scam Warning to Potential Home Owners,” HousingWire (Nov. 6, 2015)

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