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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, February 20, 2010

Unsolicited phone calls may be scam attempt

Advertiser Staff

Several Hawai'i residents say they believe unsolicited telephone calls urging them to call a toll-free number to find out if they've been the victim of predatory mortgage lending are part of a scam.

In posts on the Web site 800Notes.com, the Isle residents report receiving a message from someone named Michael who doesn't announce his company, only that he is from the "loan document compliance department." 800Notes is a user-supported database of unlisted phone numbers used by telemarketers, and other organizations that often do not identify themselves.

The message says it appears that the recipient of the call may have been the victim of unscrupulous lending, and, if that's the case, the lender is obligated to reduce mortgage payments.

"We can get that down to as low as 2 percent," the message says. "So go ahead and give us a call."

Steve Levins, executive director of the state Office of Consumer Protection, said he had not heard of this specific solicitation but added that there have been a number of scams related to mortgages that promise to lower payments with the help of federal programs.

He said that in one instance several months ago, telephone messages were blasted out to residents in every state, with the caller saying a new program from the Obama administration made people eligible for reduced mortgage payments.

Levins said the number given was a prepaid cell phone.

People need to be cautious when receiving unsolicited calls deal with financial matters, Levins said.

He added that personal information should never be given out over the telephone to strangers.