If you want stricter laws protecting homewoners from predators looking to scam foreclosure victims, then Florida has some good news for you.
The state has enacted a new law, effective on October 1, 2008, aimed at equity-skimming and advance-fee fraud schemes designed to steal from Florida homeowners what little money or equity they may have left.
The law doesn’t apply to everyone – lawyers, for example, are already regulated by the Florida Bar and are exempt from the new law – but anyone who’s not exempt and offers services to foreclosure homeowners has to comply with strict new requirements, including written disclosure requirements, a cooling-off period, and a prohibition from taking fees before all services are complete. The law also makes it easier for homeowners to cancel any transaction where a foreclosure “consultant” tricks the homeowner into singing over a deed to their home.
Perhaps most important, for homeowners who have fallen victim to foreclosure predators, anyone who violates the new law may have to pay penalties of up to $15,000. Anyone who thinks they’ve been a victim of foreclosure rescue scams after October 1 should contact a lawyer to find out if they have any claims against a scammer.