New law offers homeowners more protection from mortgage rescue fraud

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More protection is on the way to prevent Hawaii homeowners from becoming targets of mortgage rescue fraud.

Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed Wednesday House Bill 2275 (Act 26), a measure that goes after out-of-state lawyers, as well as local agents and associates who are making false promises to homeowners.

Act 26 expands the definition of “distressed property consultant” to anyone who represents or assists those who provide distressed property consultant services for an advance fee. It also clarifies that attorneys exempt from this definition must be licensed by, and engaged in the practice of law in, the State of Hawaii.

“We want those who prey upon the fears and vulnerability of homeowners to know we will not allow them to take advantage of Hawaii’s people,” said Gov. Neil Abercrombie. “If you associate yourself with people who are trying to take advantage of people in tough mortgage situations, we will prosecute you.”

Act 26 aligns Hawaii law with the Federal Trade Commission’s Mortgage Assistance Relief Services rule adopted in 2010, assisting the state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) in enforcing the mortgage rescue fraud law against all persons involved in a scheme.

Anyone who believes they may have been the victim of a mortgage rescue scam can file a complaint with the OCP by contacting the Consumer Resource Center at (808) 587-4272 or online here.

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