Nick Coltrain

As National Consumer Protection Week winds down, the Nevada Office of the Attorney General has issued an alert about specific scams, particularly those targeting seniors and mortgage holders.

“Unscrupulous individuals or businesses will prey on victims in distress who want to save their home during these tough economic times,” Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said. “Nevadans should be vigilant when looking for resources to save their home. Be skeptical, educate yourself and don’t fall for the national foreclosure settlement scams or loan modification scams.”

Scammers are using recent the multi-state mortgage servicer settlement to gain access to bank account numbers.

The typical scam involves a phone call or e-mail from someone identifying themselves as a third-party settlement administrator or bank employee. The scammer will tell the potential victim that they are eligible for part of the settlement and ask for a bank account number so the money can be direct deposited into the account.

Mortgage borrowers should contact their services directly for information about the settlement. National phone numbers are:

• Bank of America: 877-488-7814

• Citigroup: 866-272-4749

• J.P. Morgan Chase: 866-372-6901

• Ally (formerly GMAC): 800-766-4622

• Wells Fargo: 800-288-3212

Loan modification scammers typically use several different themes to take money from you, including phantom foreclosure counseling, sale/lease-back or repurchase, bait and switch and fraudulent modification.

Scammers may also try to circumvent recent federal and state law changes by charging upfront fees for a service that they’ll never perform. Here are tips from the state attorney general’s office:

• Carefully read and understand any documents before you sign them. Scammers may slip one in the middle of a stack that would transfer your title to them.

• Stay away from businesses that aggressively advertise or seek you out for a loan modification.

• Be suspicious of rent-to-buy or lease-option programs and do not transfer your title to a loan modification company.

• Do not pay fees until the promised service has been provided.

‘Grandparent scam’

Scammers are also targeting the elderly, in which impostors call or e-mail seniors and pretend to be a relative, often a grandchild, who is in trouble and needs money.

“These scammers convey a sense of danger and urgency and prey on emotions to get money from well-meaning relatives,” Masto said. “They will often find information about you and your family on the Internet, so they sound more convincing. Nevadans should be vigilant to protect themselves. Do not be afraid to say no, ask questions, or tell them you will call them back.”

Tips offered by the Office of the Attorney General include:

• If you receive a call from someone claiming to know you and they are asking for money, confirm their story and need with a family member or friend.

• Ask the person hard-to-know details of your relative’s life, such as the last time you saw them or an important anniversary date.

• Don’t volunteer information to the person until you’re sure of whom you’re speaking with.

• Guard you personal information online.

• Use up-to-date antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer and be wary when opening emails, attachments or links from addresses you don’t recognize.

• Don’t allow the caller to bully you unless you’re sure of the identity.