Mortgage finance giant Fannie Mae has opened a mortgage help center in Phoenix to help struggling homeowners with loans owned by the company.

Arizona had the nation's third-highest rate of foreclosures in August, which breaks down to 1 in every 165 units, data from California-based RealtyTrac Inc. show.

The new center's main goal is helping Arizona homeowners facing foreclosure sort through options that best address their situations.

"This is an opportunity to make an appointment and really be heard," said Jeffrey Hayward, senior vice president of the National Servicing Organization at Fannie Mae. "We are doing anything we can do to reach people who have Fannie Mae-owned loans."

He said homeowners will be able to talk with English and Spanish speakers about their mortgage situations and come up with options to prevent foreclosures.

More than half of all borrowers who go into foreclosure never contact their loan providers, Hayward said.

He also urged homeowners to be wary of any person or business promising to offer a modification for a fee.

The Phoenix Mortgage Help Center is the fifth in a series of local centers the company is unveiling across the country to help distressed homeowners with loans owned by the company.

Fannie Mae is partnering with Neighborhood Housing Services of Phoenix, major mortgage providers and community leaders from across the region.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were chartered by the U.S. government to boost home ownership by buying mortgages from lenders and providing a guarantee of principal.

Both companies have received billions in taxpayer funds since September 2008, when government regulators stepped in.

Fannie Mae reported a $1.3 billion third-quarter loss and said it would seek more U.S. aid earlier this month.