msnbc.com
updated 5/9/2011 7:33:12 AM ET 2011-05-09T11:33:12

Are you behind on your mortgage payments, or already in foreclosure? Or have you just experienced a life change which will affect your ability to pay? Consumer advocates, loan counselors and government housing officials support these recommendations about what to do:

1) Ask for help. Don't wait.

2) Contact your loan servicer. Check the servicer's website to see what help is available for borrowers needing assistance.

3) Contact a mortgage help hotline, your state's department of housing and/or a HUD-approved mortgage loan counseling service.

4) Get a HUD-approved counseling service to take your case and work with your loan servicer to try and get it resolved without foreclosure. Avoid foreclosure services that charge you a fee. HUD-approved counseling agencies are generally free of charge.

5) Ask the counselor about the possibility of getting a loan modification — changing the terms of your existing loan to ones you can afford.

6) Attend a foreclosure prevention workshop event in your area to get additional information face-to-face.

7) Don't apply for more credit.

Story: No end in sight to foreclosure quagmire

Mortgage Help Hotlines
There are various mortgage help hotlines borrowers can call for assistance and guidance.

HOPE NOW Alliance - Homeowner's Hope Hotline
The HOPE NOW Alliance is a private-sector group of counselors, mortgage market participants, and mortgage servicers. At President George W. Bush's direction, the Departments of Treasury and Housing and Urban Development established this alliance to provide voluntary assistance to borrowers. Call 888-995-HOPE (4673).

National Foundation for Credit Counseling
The NFCC is the nation's largest national nonprofit credit counseling network, with more than 100 member agencies and nearly 850 offices in communities throughout the country. NFCC members, often known as Consumer Credit Counseling Services, can be identified by the NFCC member seal.  You can find one of its members and get more information about avoiding foreclosure on the NFCC's website.

NeighborWorks America
This group administers housing counseling agencies funded through the National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling Program. These agencies can provide you with information about several federal programs for homeowners facing foreclosure. The group's website also includes information on avoiding loan modification scams.

Department of Housing and Urban Development
The website for this federal agency offers tips on avoiding foreclosure and advice on what to do if you’re in the process.

State and Local Mortgage Help Hotlines
Most states and some cities have set up their own mortgage help hotlines and provide other resources to help homeowners having mortgage trouble. Check out the HUD website for links and the latest information on what's available.

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