Published: Oct 29, 2010 5:00 AM EDT
Updated: Oct 29, 2010 12:39 AM EDT

FORT MYERS, Fla. - The foreclosure crisis is getting worse for the nation, and Southwest Florida ranked as one of the top spots. Despite the dreary statistics, some say you do have a line of defense to save your home.

"I'm a plumber, I'm a union plumber, and there's just no work going on," Tim Tew said Thursday.

Tew's out of a job, and has been for more than a year. Now, he fears he may lose his home of 22 years to foreclosure. But Tew's not alone. Foreclosure defense attorney David Hicks says one in five Floridians is in imminent danger of going into default on their mortgage.

"A number of people choose to stick their head in the sand when these bad things are happening, and that's about the worst thing you can do. You need to understand what your options are. You need to be proactive. You need to take charge of the situation and get somebody that can help," Hicks said Thursday.

Southwest Florida homeowners in fear of foreclosure were offered some of that guidance at a Foreclosure Prevention workshop at the Fort Myers Star Complex on Thursday night. The workshop highlighted the need to act fast when facing foreclosure. Discussion also focused on protecting yourself from fraudulent foreclosures. Currently, Attorneys General across the nation are investigating whether banks followed proper procedure in evicting people who can't pay up.

"Right now, there are a number of foreclosure mills in the state of Florida that handle over 85% of the volume of lender's foreclosures and they take shortcuts, they cut corners," Hicks said.

 Once you're served foreclosure papers, Hicks says you only have 20 days to respond. But the right information and counsel can serve as much needed ammunition to fight for your home. Legal counsel can be pricey, but there are some agencies out there, like the Legal Aid Society, that can help homeowners unable to foot another bill.