Okay, so I am underwater in my home and needed relief. I had heard about loan modifications and their attendant scams, so I decided to do my homework and go local. I was pleased when I found Strategic Loan Mods (SLM) since they were in fact in Seattle (45 min. away), there was a physical address and I spoke to the “president” Karen Tuff. She assured me that SLM was on the up and up, that they were an “attorney firm” and that for the wee fee of $2500, I would get a modification for both my first and second. Well I figured it seemed all well and good. I was told to send all $2500 to their processor, who was in fact not an employee of SLM but their own concern (first red flag) and that he would cut SLM a check for its share of $1600 of the $2500 fee (second red flag). I remember asking if filtering payments was legal and was assured it was (lie #1). So I spoke to the processor, from the West of the State. He was a great guy, knew his stuff and gave me his contact info. He told me SLM would be kept in the loop and would be my point of contact, basically he was being paid $900 to negotiate with the lender, not stay in touch with me. Had SLM done their job, I wouldn’t be writing this. So the processor, one of SLM’s “Modification Consultants,” got to work, almost right away he got some results, and that was great, if I had heard about it when it happened. The lender approved my first for a modification and send the documents to me, I had no idea anything had happened until they arrived. Perplexed I called the processor. He was embarrassed and said that he had emailed SLM the day I got the mod (almost ten days earlier) and said they should have contacted me (red flag #3). So we both contacted SLM, they apologized and said they would be better at being the communication between the processor and I. So the second’s negotiation begins and is going slowly, there isn’t equity in the home, but the lender doesn’t have as much incentive to modify. My processor worked hard for me, after three weeks of no word, I contacted him again. He told me of the progress and apologized on behalf of SLM. I told him he was fine, but SLM was going to catch some hell. I called them and spoke to Gary Eyring, Karen Tuff’s husband and VP of the company. He was quite personable, but I demanded SLM do its job, I flat out asked, ‘what did you guys do to earn $1600?’ He laughed condescendingly and lectured me for twenty minutes on the need for “openness.” Finally I told him SLM needed to do its job or I wanted that money back (I was going to give part of it to the processor and the rest was a refund). He said they would work on it. Apparently the processor lost faith in them too, since I started getting emails from him directly keeping me updated. I finally got the second mod, but I never heard an unsolicited word from SLM. I called them up and spoke to good ‘ol Gary again and I simply said that SLM didn’t do anything to justify such a high fee, I wanted $1600 refunded. Mr. Eyring laughed condescendingly again (maybe that is just his laugh, I don’t know or care) and said they did their job by securing me as a client (WTF!?!?!?!) I told him $1600 to sell a $2500 loan mod was outrageous. I told me they had administrative costs, fees to sales assistants, blah, blah, blah. Bottom line is they took my money and for what? (I spoke to Karen Tuff a bit later and she said they needed all their time to “focus on selling” (like I said WTF!?!?!?!?!). I got the mod and that is great, but SLM had nothing to do with that. So I did some digging and here is what I found: SLM isn’t licensed nor has it ever been licensed with the DFI (Department of Financial Institutions in WA, the agency you are required to be licensed with, both as a company and an individual if you do anything with loan mods) SLM has two complaints from other clients with the DFI Only one of SLM’s “modification consultants” are licensed with the DFI, and guess what? Gary and Karen, and their “key mediator and processor” aren’t that one. They claim to be authorized to do mods in all but five or six states, including Oregon Tennessee, Arizona and Michigan. I looked it up with a friend who is an attorney in AZ (I don’t know about other states) but, like in Washington, you have to be licensed with their DFI to do loan mods in AZ, that means selling, advertising, negotiating, etc. When you click on the link for that, good ‘ol Gary’s picture and contact info pop up. Guess what? He’s not licensed to do anything in AZ. That is a possible criminal act. I probably won’t get my money back, I’m going to file a complaint with the DFI here and the WA Attorney General, but I doubt much will come of it. If you need a modification, hire an experienced attorney with a good rep in your community to just sue them, don’t get in bed with people like this. Strategic Loan Mods, Karen Tuff and Gary Eyring took my money!