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For Immediate Release
July 11, 2002
Contact: Sean Caine, 410-576-6357

ATTORNEY GENERAL CURRAN WARNS HOMEOWNERS ABOUT PREDATORY HOME EQUITY LENDING

Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr., along with AARP, is warning consumers to beware of "predatory" home equity lenders. In the latest issue of his Consumer's Edge newsletter, Attorney Curran says that many elderly, low- or moderate-income, and minority homeowners are targeted by aggressive, unscrupulous lenders who arrange home equity loans with high sub-prime interest rates, high or hidden fees, and unaffordable repayment terms. The homeowner's home may be lost to foreclosure if he or she can't make the payments.

"We want homeowners to shop around for home equity loans and understand all the terms in any loan offer," said Curran.

Curran recommends that consumers:

• Compare offers from several lenders.

• Find out their credit score. Sometimes people who have good credit are charged higher "subprime" rates and fees for loans because they don't know that their credit would qualify them for a better loan.

• Be wary of financing offered by a home improvement contractor. Shop around for financing from lenders not associated with the contractor.

• Call the Maryland Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation 410-230-6097 or toll-free at 1-888-784-0136 to find out if a mortgage lender is licensed, as required, and to find out if complaints have been lodged against the lender.

• See a housing counselor to discuss options. Consumers can locate counselors certified by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by calling 1-888-466-3487.

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Attorney General of Maryland 1 (888) 743-0023 toll-free / TDD: (410) 576-6372
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