Among other useful resources provided by the California Bureau of Real Estate is a consumer alert called Suggested Questions for Consumers to Ask of Those who Offer Real Estate and Home Loan Services: Helping You Avoid Becoming a Scam Victim. Among the questions that the BRE suggests are:
1. Ask whether they are licensed and for a CalBRE Real Estate license number (note – real estate attorneys may be exempt from this).
2. How many transactions of this type have you performed successfully (i.e. loan modification)?
3. Past client references?
4. Business banking references?
5. What are the specific services? (Get these in writing.)
6. Ask what type of entity is doing the business and when it was formed.
7. How long have you been doing these services?
8. Are you a specialist, and what are the qualifications to become a specialist?
Of course, scam artists could artfully answer these questions, so nothing is ever a guarantee. However, years of taking depositions has taught me that people who aren’t telling the truth eventually get exposed if you ask enough questions. You also learn to trust your gut and keep peeling back layers if something seems fishy.