Monday, August 8, 2011

Credit Monitoring and The Stuff Movies are Made Of

For the past year, we've had some very quiet neighbors living next door to us.  The house was bought by a man who owns several properties and he rented it to a family of 4, sometimes 6 people.  It was hard to know how many people were living there at any given time because they almost always stayed inside.

There was a mom, a dad, and 2 young kids 3 and 5 years old.  There were two teenage boys who seemed to come and go.  The mom and dad worked in the mortgage business.  He said he worked on restructuring loans for the people struggling to pay their mortgages.

Two weeks ago, they suddenly packed up and moved.  They told my neighbor they were moving back to where they came from one day and left 3 days later.

This weekend the landlord started cleaning out the place...that was full.  It was as if they left their children's whole lives behind--baby pictures, wedding pictures, toys, figurines, furniture...  The strange part is that they left here in a Uhaul--and made 2 trips.  Does this sound like an episode of a drama on television yet or a 48 hours mystery?

It sounds very sketchy and strange to me.  I'm not sure what the real story is, but I'm sure it's complicated.  Honestly, whatever it is can't be good.  It likely involves a lot of the yuckiness and troubles in this life.

There's a catch though, because my neighbor happened to process loans for people with troubled mortgages.  The landlord said he is a skilled liar.  That statement alone makes me very uneasy considering what he purported to do for a living.

I read a recent article in the Sun about some of the recent scams that have been pulled on people with troubled mortgages.  One of the scams was that someone would offer to help them refinance or restructure their loan.  They would give them a fake pay booklet and instruct them to stop paying their old mortgage company and to instead pay the new amount (based on the new, but fake loan) to another address given to them by the person who is restructuring/refinancing their loan.  After missing a few payments, the bank that still held the loan would foreclose on the property and the property owner would lose the property.

There have been other scams that I've read about over the past few years, but this was the most recent one I remember.

So, what would you do if you found yourself duped?  Or potentially duped?  I've been reading the business section of the Baltimore Sun for the past 6 years and it's been surprising to me the little financial issues that I've begun to think about. (It used to be a much better and thicker section before the recession of course.)  But, all that I've read gave me several ideas of what I would do.

#1  Get credit monitoring.  If I'd given forms to someone and I didn't know where they were or what the status on them was, I'd make sure to get credit monitoring right away.  There would have been a lot of personal information in those forms that would enable someone to easily steal my identity.

#2  Start a real refinancing loan or a restructuring loan via a bank.  I would look for an organization that was financially backed and secure.  I would begin this process quickly so that no one would step in and mess with my home.  I would want to take control and know what was going on.

#3  I'd watch my back and be wary.  I'd check my credit card and checking balances and stay on top of them.  I would want to notice anything unusual right away.  

I guess I'd be a bit paranoid, but I've already been the victim of minor identity theft as have other members of my family.  I am naturally on my guard.  My job is to protect my family.  I hope that the situation for my former neighbors isn't as bad as I've imagined it might possibly be.  This experience has reinforced the belief that I need to be observant and careful.  You never know...


  1. I would also monitor my children's credit. Those are all things that I need to be more diligent about. Thanks for the reminder. Do you use a particular credit monitoring system or do you do it yourself? And I do hope that your former neighbors are okay- especially those children.

  2. Yes, actually there was an article in the paper recently about monitoring your kids credit! I guess people will steal their ss numbers for illegal immigrants to use because they have several years before they will get caught and the child is applying for jobs. Our bank has a credit monitoring option that we opted into several years ago. I have been praying for my neighbors--particularly for their kids. I am concerned about them though I know I can't do anything--but I can pray :)