The paperwork’s filed, the deals are signed, and aside from the years of mortgage payments and the other stresses of ownership, you can relax and start turning your new house into a home.

Until the postman shows up.

“After I did close on my home, my mailbox was just flooded with mail solicitations, with ‘Refinance!‘ and ‘Get a Better Rate!‘ said Cassandra Rowley, a former sailor-turned-Realtor in the Seattle area who used her VA loan benefit to help finance her own home earlier this year.

“Ignore all that. You have to ignore all that. You just took on this huge, several-thousand-dollar debt. You want to let your credit repair, you want to let everything smooth out before you make any more major decisions.”

There’s another good reason to skip out on those offers: Some may not be legit.

Home HQ outlined a recent “Warning Order” by two federal agencies on possible VA loan scams here, but that warning was far from the first. A 2016 message from the Better Business Bureau addressed the refinance scams specifically and offered some tips to help new homeowners ward off predatory lenders:

  • New-school scammers: You may still get the red, white and blue leaflets in the mail, but many of the scams have moved to email or social media to find their victims.
  • Don’t “act now”: Some legitimate lenders do offer limited-time pricing, and there may be deadlines attached, but if you’re feeling pressured into an immediate decision, it’s not a good sign.
  • Pay first, problems later: If you’re asked to pay upfront so you can lock in a rate, step away. And if the lender requests an unusual method of payment (gift card, prepaid debt card, wire transfer), there’s a good chance it’s being done to your detriment.
  • Guaranteed rate?: Any pitches that involve “guaranteed” figures before a lender even gets a glimpse at your credit score should be cast aside. Fast.

If you’ve been targeted by a suspected scammer, you can contact VA investigators to share your story. You can also contribute to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker, which monitors lending and other types of scams nationwide.

Kevin Lilley is the features editor of Military Times.

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