Getting behind on mortgage payments is scary and stressful. It does not take too long before the process of foreclosure begins. 

The good news is there are resources for those who are struggling to keep up with payments. Taking the right steps can prevent someone from losing the home. 

Be proactive 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, seeking help right away is important to avoid foreclosure. As soon as a homeowner is unable to make a mortgage payment, contact with the lender should be immediate. There are numerous options a lender is able to provide when someone is going through a trying time. Open all mail from the lender, as the first letters provide foreclosure prevention information. 

The next step is to get ahold of a HUD-approved counselor. This person can help negotiate with the lender, explain foreclosure laws, prioritize spending and spot foreclosure scams. 

Avoid fraudulent scams 

Unfortunately, there are people who take advantage of those who are struggling financially. The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development discusses some common scams and how to spot them. One illegal scam is when someone advertises or contacts the homeowner with the promise of providing a way out. 

An official and state- or federal-approved foreclosure counselor does not charge a fee for assistance, so walk away from anyone who requires an up-front fee. Never sign over the deed to the property to any person or organization, and only make payments directly to the lender. If someone is the victim of foreclosure fraud, there is legal action that one can take.