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50-plus Americans a favorite of mortgage rescue scammers

By Rita R. Robison, Consumer Specialist

Older Americans are among the hardest hit by scams preying on distressed homeowners by offering foreclosure counseling or loan modification assistance for a fee.

As of July, homeowners nationwide have reported more than $40 million in losses from fees paid to fraudulent and deceptive “rescuers,” complaints submitted to the Lawyer’s Committee’s for Civil Rights Under Law since February 2010 show. Homeowners age 51 and older reported losses of more than $16 million, a 41 percent of the losses reported.

The Lawyer’s Committee, a group of attorneys that addresses racial discrimination, announced these results this week, as the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors.

“I am excited that the CFPB is finally becoming a reality,” Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director Barbara Arnwine said in a statement. “Consumers, particularly people of color, have gone far too long without proper protections from bad actors and discriminatory practices in the financial market which has adversely impacted the middle class. This new agency will demand better accountability for those providing financial products to consumers.”

Arnwine said the group is encouraged to see that one of the CFPB’s specific initiatives includes its Office of Older Americans, set to begin operations early next year.  

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