During the recent foreclosure crisis, borrowers are surrounded by law firms and third-party corporations promising passage into the safe waters of modifications – for an upfront fee. The Law Office of Barsness & Cohen discounted its eBook on how borrowers can modify a loan themselves. The firm marked the “mod-in-a-box” package down to $99 from $249, according to a corporate release. The book was written by a California real estate attorney, and the release even warns consumers to avoid paying an unqualified company for a loan modification. Instead, as Barsness & Cohen suggest, “you can do it yourself and save.” Opening up the box, borrowers find sample hardship letters, forms and advice on how to deal with the lender. It's the advice that the California Attorney General’s office has a problem with. “The do-it-yourself loan mod packages that are being sold for $99, the danger there is that they are faulty legal advice,” according to the California Attorney General’s office. “They don’t really help, because you have to go to your lender anyway.” Behind the assuring messages of modification essentially lies a middle-man selling a shaky sense of security -- or, at worst, nothing at all. Families desperate to save their home are attracted to that sense of security, that peace of mind they are doing everything they can. But if the third-party charges upfront and dashes, the family once happy just to be working toward a modification might be digging their own grave. “Never, ever pay advanced fees, and don’t ignore the problem,” said the California Attorney General’s office. "Go to your lender or go to a non-profit.” For a more in-depth look into the victims of loan modification scams and their affect on the servicing industry, see the November issue of HousingWire. Write to Jon Prior.