Gone Phishing

During these last lazy days of summer, a fishing trip might seem like a great idea as a favorite past time for many.

But beware of other types of ‘phishermen’ on ‘phishing expeditions.’

Phishing is the favorite process of scam artists to try to get consumers to divulge personal identification information like account numbers, Social Security Numbers or addresses.

Once a scamster has your personal information it can wreak havoc on your personal financial management.

Methods familiar to most include elaborate imitation websites combined with emails and some type of message that your account information needs to be reverified because of some sort of special offer or need to update the institution’s account database.

With the recent credit crisis and proliferation of special loan programs, homeowners have been favorite targets. One example: Email solicitations by a legitimate-sounding credit union advertising low rates for mortgage refinancing. Or emails offering loan modification programs or ways to stop foreclosure.

Other techniques are taking advantage of the trend toward the use of more social networking sites. With the advent of such resources like Linked In, Twitter or Facebook, some identity thieves will find enough personal information (i.e. employment, residence, education) to help them become you.

Remember that a government agency or financial institution will never ask you to provide your personal identifying information in an unsolicited email. One way to check the authenticity of any such email is to scroll over any visible links in the email to see the website suffix. Anything other than ‘.com,’ or ‘.gov’ or ‘.org’ might be indicating a non-US-based computer server and a likely scam source. Also consider scrolling across the bottom of the subject email. Sometimes there are hidden links which may also provide an indication of the foreign origin of the email.

If in doubt, call the agency or firm directly but use a phone number provided from one of your statements, not from the email. You can also check on the legitimacy of the source by checking with the Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov) or trade organizations.

For instance, a visit to the National Credit Union Association ( www.ncua.gov ) determined that the credit union refinance offer was phony. Banks, financial services firms and insurers all have regulators and industry trade groups that can verify the legitimate existence of an organization.

Not all ‘phishing’ expeditions are hi-tech. Some are as low-tech as rummaging through garbage cans and dumpsters for mail showing account numbers. Others include phone calls using the same message of ‘updating account information’ as noted in the email version above.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Be careful about leaving information lying around. When on line, clear your ‘cookies’ often and avoid leaving your passwords or credit card information pre-filled at financial websites you visit. Make sure that your computer is protected with updated versions of anti-spyware, anti-malware and pop-up blockers. Check your credit report to make sure it is accurate and that no new unauthorized accounts have been opened in your name. Get your free copy of your credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com.

Off-line you can protect yourself by shredding old financial records as well as credit card offers since these are prime sources for dumpster divers.

Don’t just throw away old computers, hard drives or cell phones. There is too much information on them that can be retrieved by a tech savvy ID thief. Hard drives should be shredded or use a baseball bat. You’ll protect yourself and be able to vent a little to get even with all the frustration that technology may have caused you.

With a little effort, you can protect yourself and not become bait for an unwanted ‘phisherman.’

Second Mortgage Loans Are Cool for Debt Consolidation and Cash Out

With the refinance boom officially over, second mortgage loans are cooler than ever. Many homeowners have been blessed with low interest rate first mortgage loans that they want to keep. The need for cash did not disappear with the refinance boom, so 2nd mortgages and home equity loans will be the loans of choice for the next few years. Anyone who has a 30-year fixed rate loan at under 6% should keep their existing loan in tact and take out a second loan on their home if they need cash. The Federal Reserve has hinted that there are more rate hikes coming, so if you are a mortgage broker or lender, it is time to brush up on your second mortgage product line, because people still need to access cash, and there is no better way to accomplish this.

Home Equity Loans to 125%

You don’t need any equity, and this loan program will actually allow you to exceed the value in your home up to 125%! These 2nd mortgages are typically offered with a fixed interest rate for 15, 20 or 25 year repayment terms. If you have credit card debt, or high rate loans, this is an excellent loan for eliminating compounding interest and saving money! IHE executive, Sandy Sarconi stated, “There is no better way for a hard-working family with no equity in their home to lower bill payments and get out of debt.”

* Fixed Interest Rate 2nd Mortgage

* No Mortgage Insurance Ever

* No Equity Second Mortgage

Stated Income Second Mortgages

More and more people are seeking reduced documentation loans. More and more people have become self-employed, and many people simply like the streamlined process.

* Stated Income Equity Loans

* No Income No Asset 2nd Mortgages

* No Income Verified Home Equity

* No Doc Equity Refinance

Second Mortgage Credit Lines

Sure the interest rates are variable. Yes the Fed has increased the prime rate index eight times in the last few years, but people love low payments that interest only loans provide. People also love the flexibility of only having to pay interest on the money you access. Where else can you get money waiting for you without having to make payments until you use spend cash!

* Interest Only Payments

* Home Lines of Credit

In 2006, the often bashful, second mortgage has emerged from the shadow of first mortgage, and evolved into the cool loan of choice.

Refinance Investments at the Best Interest Rates

Real estate investment has become very popular in the last few years. With all kinds of “no money down” real estate courses being sold on infomercials and in every home business or investing publication that exists, people have rushed to buy properties for investment purposes. Unfortunately, many of these people are not interest rate savvy and are doing themselves a disservice by not refinancing some of their investment property mortgage loans.

Refinancing an investment property can be complex, but there are some things you can do to make sure you’re doing it at the right time and you’re getting the lowest interest rates possible. The key is to stay on top of the mortgage industry trends and know when to dig deeper and consider a refinance.

The first thing is, do your homework. Interest rates change constantly. The going rate this morning may change by this afternoon! Unless you know what it is, you don’t know if you’re getting the best deal or not. And it makes a big difference! Small adjustments in interest rates can mean tens of thousands of dollars difference in total payments over the life of the loan. Read the financial news. Track mortgage interest rate trends, especially in your country or local area. An educated consumer is a wise consumer. This applies to loans as well as any other purchased item.

Second, use a mortgage broker. These trained professionals know exactly how to get the lowest interest rates possible, no matter what your specific circumstances. If you have a poor credit rating or are self-employed, you have a unique situation that brokers are trained to handle. They have access to thousands of lenders, each with many different programs. They know how to evaluate these programs and find one that will fit your needs. In combination with your own expert knowledge of current economic trends, using a mortgage broker will help you immensely in finding the best refinancing deal.

Third, buy down as much as you can. “Buying down” is a term used to describe taking some of the interest expense up front as “points.” The more you can do this, the lower the interest rate you’ll end up paying on the loan. This is always a good idea. Buy down as much as you can afford to. It may cost an extra few thousand at closing, but it will save tens of thousands in interest payments over the life of the loan.

Forth, negotiate. It’s not very well known that you can negotiate to lower your loan interest rates. Talk to more than one lender, or even more than one mortgage broker. Make sure each knows that you’re talking to others. Indicate that others have given you a lower rate. Don’t lie, but always be prepared to walk away. If you’ve done your homework and know the going interest rates, you’ll find that negotiation will bring you to the rock bottom interest rates you’re looking for.

These four tips will help you save thousands of dollars with the proper refinancing to the best possible interest rates for your investment properties.

How to Write a Loan Modification Hardship Letter That Gets Results

Modifying your loan is the way to avoid foreclosure, particularly if you cannot refinance. The loan modification hardship letter tells your lender what they need to know, and is a basic step toward solving your financial woes. Many loan modification requests are denied merely due to a loan modification hardship letter that was poorly written.

Your hardship letter should describe your financial dilemma to your lending institution, explain the reason you need a loan modification, and show them that this is the help you need to keep repaying their loan. The lender must see that you are determined to keep your home, and that this take top priority in your financial affairs.

Yes, your lender needs to know your story, but you must stick to the basic facts. Be brief and to the point. Sincerity makes for a more winning appeal than complaining or tear-jerking. Be honest, underscore how important it is to you to keep your home, and justify loan modification as the path to repayment of the loan. Your lender must believe that you will not default again if they modify your loan.

Due to the current economic crisis, lenders’ phones are ringing off the hook with tales of woe, and you do not want your plea to be overlooked. Your letter should be a few pages at most, preferably shorter. Take a positive, can-do attitude in your letter, and present them with your plan of action to get your finances under control again. The underlying message needs to communicate to your lender that you are responsible, diligent, and merely going through a rough patch. Their serious attention to your request is the second chance you need.

There are two main ways to get the support you need before you approach your lender. Find a trustworthy financial advisor with a proven track record of helping homeowners like you, one who can help you state your particular case. Also, look for online templates that show effective hardship letters. These sample documents will show you how your letter should look in order to get the loan modification you need.

No-Cost Mortgage Refinancing is a Costly Decision

When your looking around and are ready to refinance your home or condo mortgage, you are bound to see a fair number of advertisements for mortgage company’s offering “No Cost”, “Free”, Or more recently “Reduced Cost For Condo Mortgages”. Now somewhere deep down you have to ask yourself, “Why would this be free here and cost good money somewhere else?” Here’s a few tips to look for, regardless of there “No cost” offer, to ensure you get the best deal when refinancing your condo or home.

Why do some company’s advertise “No cost refinancing”? Why do other mortgage lenders have a very low flat price? Why do yet other lenders have a % based price? They make up for the “Deal” their offering you with a hyperinflated rate or get you into an a.r.m. Loan on your condo or house. They will make whatever the other companies charge plus more with these crazy high rates. So simply put. The low cost or free mortgage and condo services are not to be trusted.

The industry standard for condo and mortgage refinancing is the mortgage company usually takes a sum of .5%-.75% of your mortgage rate as there commission. For the most part, a company offering “No cost” or other gimmick offers usually tack on an additional fee for their commission ranging from another .5% to .75%. That means for you the condo or homeowner your refinancing will cost you more every single month for typically 30 years. Which is a lot of money in the long run.

Deceptive home refinancing techniques like this are used everywhere in the USA. They are easily found and spotted. There is no free anything in the refinancing industry. The only thing you can do is be smart going into it.

-M Petrone