The Federal Trade Commission wants to ban mortgage relief companies from charging homeowners up-front fees.

The FTC issued a proposal Thursday that it said is intended to protect distressed homeowners from promoters of bogus foreclosure rescue and mortgage modification services. The companies would be able to collect fees only after providing the service, the commission said in a notice on its Web site.

"Homeowners facing foreclosure or struggling to make mortgage payments shouldn't have to contend with fraudulent 'companies' that don't provide what they promise," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said. "The proposed rule would outlaw up-front fees so companies can't take the money and run."

The agency has brought cases against 28 such companies, charging that they failed to deliver what they promised.

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