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The Home Affordable Modification Program, also known as H.A.M.P., is a federal program of the United States, set up to help eligible home owners with loan modifications on their home mortgage debt. It is being set up in the context of the ongoing subprime mortgage crisis in the debt markets, continuing from 2008.
The target of the program is 7 to 8 million struggling homeowners at risk of foreclosure by working with their lenders to lower monthly mortgage payments. The Program is part of the Making Home Affordable Program which was created by the Financial Stability Act of 2009. The program was built as collaboration with lenders, investors, securities, mortgage servicers, the FHA, the VA, FHLMC, FNMA, and the Federal Housing Finance Agency, to create standard loan modification guidelines for lenders to take into consideration when evaluating a borrower for a potential loan modification.
HAMP is authorized by sections 101 and 109 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, which has been amended by section 7002 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (collectively "The Acts"). Congress has several enumerated purposes under the Acts. The main purpose is to provide the U.S. Treasury Department with the authority and mechanisms necessary to restore stability to the United States' financial system—which includes—(1) protecting home values, college funds, retirement accounts, and life savings, (2) preserving homeownership, (3) promoting jobs and economic growth, and (4) protecting the interests of taxpayers. 
As a result of the authority it received under the Acts, the U.S. Treasury Department developed HAMP. Under HAMP, mortgage servicers (Mortgage servicer refers to financial institutions which are paid a fee to service a loan for an investor. example: Joes bank and trust 'services' loans for Fannie Mae and in return receives payment for the service being provided) are provided with guidelines to which they must adhere. Financial institutions follow the guideline set by the Federal Government (the U.S. Treasury), to modify homeowners' mortgage loans in a particular and uniform fashion and receive incentive payments in return.
In an attempt to require mortgage servicers to modify mortgages in a particular and uniform fashion, the U.S. Treasury has taken several actions. First, the U.S. Treasury not only describes HAMP and its related programs on its own publicly accessed website (www.hmpadmin.com), but it also provides a step-by-step guide on how mortgage servicers are supposed to be performing the HAMP modifications. For example, in the HAMP Handbook for Servicers of Non-GSE Mortgages, the U.S. Treasury requires these servicers to actively solicit borrowers to participate in HAMP before referring a loan to foreclosure or conducting a scheduled foreclosure sale.
Second, the U.S. Treasury requires servicers to use a particular net present value calculation developed specifically for HAMP ("HAMP NPV"). The HAMP NPV was developed specifically for HAMP by a group of experts taken from the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac. The HAMP NPV attempts to predict whether the lender/investor will make more money by modifying the mortgage or foreclosing. Under HAMP, if the lender will make more money entering into a HAMP modification with the borrower (resulting in a positive HAMP NPV)—and assuming the mortgage loan is otherwise eligible under HAMP (which is discussed below)—the lender must offer a HAMP modification and cease all current efforts to foreclose. However, if the lender will lose more money entering into a HAMP modification with the borrower (resulting in a negative HAMP NPV), the lender may proceed with foreclosure.
Thus, under HAMP, lenders and/or mortgage servicers are required to make a conscious and calculated determination as to whether the pursuit of a foreclosure will be financially beneficial for the lender/investor before the foreclosure is actively pursued—which presumptively should result in fewer foreclosures—thereby providing more stability to the U.S. economy and achieving the purpose intended by the United States Congress.
The program abides by the following eligibility and verification criteria:
Throughout 2009 and 2010, foreclosure rescue and mortgage modification scams have been a growing concern. Charging fees before a loan modification is attempted is illegal and considered predatory. Predators are more likely to do business in states with higher numbers of foreclosure or properties at risk for foreclosure such as Illinois and Rhode Island, and in cities such as Phoenix. The Chicago Mortgage Fraud Task Force found eleven companies guilty of committing this type of fraud in the Brighton Park neighborhood of Chicago. Rhode Island launched a Loan Modification Scam Alert to raise awareness and provide a way for victims to report fraud. At a national level, Neighborworks, a government funded non-profit that works to make housing affordable, launched its own Loan Modification Scam Alert.
The website www.loanscamalert.org launched by Neighborworks lists signs of possible fraud:
A complete and updated list of lenders currently signed on is available at the Making Home Affordable website List of HAMP Lenders.
A May 2012 Fox Business report has alleged that programs like HAMP modifications are helping only a few homeowners and have not been effective at dealing with the mortgage crisis.  The National Taxpayer Union has also argued that HAMP has been grossly ineffective:
HAMP has proven a colossal failure that has done more to harm than help debt-laden homeowners. Having only achieved slightly more than 500,000 permanent modifications, 40% of which the Treasury expects to default, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of its goal of helping 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. To date, far more borrowers have dropped out of the program (or were denied eligibility by servicers when, in fact, the homeowner qualified) than successfully achieved permanent loan modification. These borrowers, along with those who later default, will often be left with larger outstanding debt, worse credit scores, and less home equity. Congress should pass legislation that eliminates the HAMP program, to put an end to these counterproductive outcomes while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.
However, the United States Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) conducted its own investigation and reported its findings in its report titled: Mortgage Foreclosures: Documentation Problems Reveal Need for Ongoing Regulatory Oversight. According to the GAO, not only have banking regulators issued enforcement orders to various mortgage servicers for various mortgage servicing deficiencies, but the Federal Housing Finance Agency, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the U.S. Treasury have all issued letters to their respective servicers reminding them of their obligations to properly perform and document all of their required mortgage servicing activities. Moreover, according to the GAO:
Further, the regulators’ reviews also revealed that most servicers did not maintain sufficient staffing levels to process the increasing volume of foreclosures, nor were staff adequately trained to perform this work in compliance with relevant laws and regulations. For example, regulators found that one servicer that had previously understaffed this function and had not provided adequate training increased its document-signing staff from 5 to 80 and revised its training to include guidance for judicial foreclosures to address deficiencies in foreclosure processing.
Thus, while there are those who argue that HAMP is ineffective, it appears as if Federal governmental agencies are, at the very least, indirectly suggesting that the mortgage servicers may be to blame. As a result, it appears as if at least one government-sponsored enterprise has taken action that comports with the recommendations of the GAO. For example, Fannie Mae has mandated that all of its servicers in Florida, as mandated by the Florida Supreme Court, must not only take potential foreclosures to mediation before attempting to foreclose—but these same mortgage servicers must (1) submit written pre-foreclosure offers to the homeowners before leaving the mediation and (2) maintain documentation that it submitted such written pre-foreclosure offers to the homeowners at the mediation. Further, recent research by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago economists suggests that regions where HAMP was used intensively saw a lower rate of house price decline as well as an increase in the pay-down rate on consumer debt.