If you’re a homeowner who has an existing mortgage, beware (and if you’re an agent or broker, you may want to pass this on to your clients). A mortgage scam going around the country has made it to Virginia.

The scam involves receiving a "hello" letter in the mail saying something like,

Dear (insert your full name here),

Your mortgage has been sold to (insert name of a reputable lender here). Beginning (the first of next month), please remit payment to the following address:

(insert name of reputable lender here), P.O. Box (XXX), (city, state and zip code)

The letter may seem valid and very real with further language such as,

"Your terms and rate will not change whatsoever. The only thing that will change is the address where you sent your payment. If you have any questions, feel free to call (insert phone number here)."

What may actually be happening is that you’re sending your mortgage payment to a scam artist that collects your check, cashes it and runs off with your money. Often times, the P.O. Box is forwarded to an overseas "boiler room" address that’s controlled by scam artists. You will not only lose your money, but your existing mortgage company will come after you for non-payment.

Your mortgage being sold to another lender or servicing company is not uncommon. But you should receive a "goodbye" letter from your existing lender before you receive a "hello" letter from the new lender/servicing company.

If you have not received a "goodbye" letter from your existing lender prior to receiving a "hello" letter, contact your existing lender to confirm that your loan has been sold before you send any payments to the new lender. You will need your loan number to confirm the change so have that ready before you call.

And don’t worry…you have up to 60 days after your loan has been sold to send payments to the original lender before having to send it to the new lender. That gives you plenty of time to contact your existing lender to confirm the change while continuing to pay your mortgage payment on time to your existing lender.

Note: Even if you have received a "goodbye" letter, it may be a good idea to verify your loan has been sold prior to sending a payment to the new lender/address.

And if you do find out that you’ve received a bogus letter that’s actually a scam, let your lender know immediately.