Mayor Nickels & Partners Advise Consumers: "Don't Borrow Trouble"
For Immediate release April 17, 2003
SEATTLE - Elderly, low-income, minority and immigrant consumers are much more likely to have home loans at excessive interest rates, and these groups are often victims of predatory lending practices, Mayor Greg Nickels said today.
Marking National Housing Month in April, Nickels, King County Executive Ron Sims, home mortgage investor Freddie Mac and other community partners launched the "Don't Borrow Trouble" campaign. The effort targets abusive and fraudulent home mortgage lending practices in the greater Seattle area.
"Everyone has a right to be treated fairly when it comes to what for many of us, is the biggest financial investment we'll ever make," said Nickels. "Yet, families working hard to achieve the dream of homeownership or who attempt to refinance their homes are being victimized by unscrupulous lenders, and that's not acceptable."
"King County is pleased to be a partner in this public education campaign to ensure that local residents, particularly our elderly citizens, do not become the targets of unfair lending practices that could cause them to lose their life savings and even their homes," said King County Executive Ron Sims.
The "Don't Borrow Trouble" campaign aims to educate consumers so they don't fall victim to exorbitant interest rates, excessive fees and deceitful sales techniques when they apply for home loans. The effort includes:
"Don't Borrow Trouble is a campaign that gets results," said Mark Spates, director, Community Development Lending, Freddie Mac. "Thanks to Mayor Nickels, County Executive Sims, and our local partners, we now have the opportunity to help families in Seattle and King County avoid those "too-good-to be true" deals and instead succeed as long-term homeowners."
"We have pooled our talents and resources to promote fair lending practices and to prevent predatory lending," said Cheryl Markham, chair of the Coalition steering committee. "Our mission is to educate the public, provide a referral service for people to call and to develop remedies for people who have been victimized."
Seattle business owner Vanita Rodde knows about predatory lenders from personal experience. She says she was victimized when she refinanced her home.
"Even though my income and credit qualified me for a prime loan, my lender steered me to a high-interest loan loaded with fees and penalties," said Rodde. "I thought I was dealing with a reputable company, so I didn't ask the right questions until it was too late. I'm here to say that if it happened to me, it can happen to anybody."