The New York Office of the Attorney General started the Homeowner Protection Program (HOPP) program in 2012. Since the program began, it has received millions of dollars to pay for a foreclosure-relief network of nearly 90 housing counseling and legal services organizations. These organizations provide free advice and other forms of aid to homeowners facing foreclosure in New York.
HOPP provides two main forms of assistance: housing counseling and access to legal services organizations.
Not-for-profit housing counselors give free advice to homeowners on foreclosure avoidance, loan modifications, refinance applications, and related matters. A housing counselor can also assess your possible options and evaluate your credit issues. (Learn more about how using a housing counseling agency and talking to a HUD-approved housing counselor might be beneficial if you're facing foreclosure.)
HOPP also connects homeowners who're facing a New York foreclosure to organizations that can provide legal advice, as well as advocacy and litigation services, including direct representation in court proceedings and settlement conferences.
Talking to a housing counselor or legal services organization is often a good idea because New York foreclosure law is complicated.
Be suspicious if a private company other than your lender or servicer solicits you for foreclosure relief services, especially if the company charges an upfront fee.
Scam artists—usually for-profit loan modification and other foreclosure rescue companies—go through foreclosure filings to look for potential victims who are desperate to save their homes. These companies then send official-looking letters with logos, names, or website addresses designed to trick homeowners into thinking the company is part of an official government program, like HOPP, or a law firm. These companies promise to save your home and then fail to deliver after you've paid them. Even if a foreclosure rescue company is successful in helping you avoid a foreclosure, you'll have paid money for assistance that you could have received for free from a housing counselor funded by HOPP or the federal government.
If you think you've already been scammed, you may file a complaint with the New York State Office of the Attorney General.
To find a housing counselor or legal services organization through HOPP, call 855-HOME-456 (855-466-3456) or go to the HOPP website. The New York State Attorney General's Office also set up a separate website to provide free information on topics like homeowner scams, foreclosure, reverse mortgages, and tax liens. The site also connects homeowners with free mortgage assistance services that HOPP partners provide.
Keep in mind that if you're having trouble making your mortgage payments, you may call your servicer directly to discuss available options. Servicers typically offer different ways to get caught up on your payments, like forbearance agreements and repayment plans, or you might qualify for an in-house ("proprietary") loan modification to make your monthly payment more affordable.
If you still need assistance after contacting your servicer and HOPP, or you think you might want to fight a foreclosure in court, consider talking to a foreclosure lawyer in your area.