Housing refinance scam targets North Dakota borrowers

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Scammers are constantly working to separate you from your money. Email scams are the easiest way for criminals to reach potential victims. But at least one scam artist in the state is going old school.

One borrower received an attempted scam letter. It looks real, with accurate letterhead, but with a fake phone number and fax number.

The person listed doesn't work for the state housing agency and won't lower your monthly payments.

"It was an attempt basically to gain the social security number of that customer as well as access the payment, the first month's payment," says Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

The NDHFA says no real lender will ever ask for a trial payment period.

"It's the world of consumers beware because there's very sophisticated scammers out there. But you know, certainly from our perspective, we don't want our borrowers to fall prey to that," says Kline.

"A healthy dose of skepticism is what I'm afraid we're all going to have to realize is the new normal," says Wayne Stenehjem, North Dakota Attorney General.

Stenehjem says many have complained to his office about incessant calls from scammers pretending to be IRS agents threatening prosecution for late payments with reloadable debit cards.

"If anybody ever asks you to pay a bill that you owe using one of these reloadable cards, I'm telling you, it's a scam. Not usually, not often, it's a scam every single time," says Stenehjem.

Stenehjem says the best way to confirm something's legitimate, is to call the agency directly.

If you believe you've been the victim of the scam, the Attorney General's Office asks you to report it to the Consumer Protection Division at (701) 328-3404.