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I'm confused about something. I received a notice in the mail recently that my mortgage loan with a big box lender was being modified. I have two mortgages, and neither is with that big box lender. But I wanted to find out what was happening, so I called the number in the notice I received.

The man who answered the phone said he was with a law group in California and talked with me about my balances, the values and chances to lower at least one interest rate. I gave him no personal information. The man indicated he was serving as a broker for the big box lender. He said he'd email me some documents, and I should fax them back to him. I haven't received anything yet. There is a website for his group, but I'm still queasy about all this. How do I know whether this is a scam?

I don't know whether the person who contacted you by mail is a fraud or not. What I can tell you is that you are probably better off finding yourself a mortgage broker or mortgage lender in your area to help you out if you're thinking about refinancing your mortgage.

With all the kinds of fraud that goes on these days, you always should be on high alert when anyone contacts you out of the blue with an offer to save you money. Since you did not solicit that offer and you don't know the source, you are right to view it as suspect.

It may be that the gentleman who contacted you is legitimate. But, on the chance that he is not, you are better off finding your own people to help you out. You already know that whoever sent you the solicitation did not actually have the correct information for you or your loan.

His mailing may have been a way to entice you to call him (which you did). Innocently, he might be qualified to help you out. However, it may also be that this person has other ideas in mind that could harm you.

You certainly can try to see if the company that this person works for is legitimate, whether the company has complaints against it with the Better Business Bureau, or whether people have filed complaints against that company in court or with the attorney general in your state or in the state where he is located.

Given the potential harm that could have come to you from calling a number that was sent to you, you were wise not to reveal any personal information. You're always better off protecting your personal information and finding people on your own to help you refinance a loan or negotiate a loan settlement.

One final thought: Some lenders are offering to modify loans for customers since interest rates have fallen to new historic lows. This sort of action comes out of the loan retention department; these companies are trying to proactively keep borrowers from shopping around and finding a new lender. But you wouldn't be contacted by a law firm.

Instead, your lender would contact you directly. Since you don't have a loan with the big box lender you were contacted about, there's no way they could be modifying your loan.

Ilyce R. Glink's latest book is "Buy, Close, Move In!" Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.

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