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Feds crack down on misleading mortgage ads

Updated: December 21, 2012 6:16AM

Federal regulators are cracking down on misleading ads for mortgage services, particularly those targeting seniors and veterans to trick them into making expensive mistakes, officials said Monday.

The Federal Trade Commission and Consumer Financial Protection Bureau together combed through more than 800 ads in print media, direct mail, online, on Facebook and in emails and found many examples that “pose a significant risk of harm to consumers,” said Kent Markus, assistant director of enforcement for the CFPB.

Ads deemed to be in possible violation of the Mortgage Acts and Practices Advertising Rule included those incorrectly implying an affiliation with a government program, providing misleading information about interest rates and costs or guaranteeing approval without giving information about significant conditions that would have to be met.

The feds looked at ads placed by non-bank mortgage lenders, brokers, services and advertising agencies.

A total of 32 warning letters have been sent to businesses running misleading ads. In addition, 13 additional businesses are under investigation for more serious alleged breaches. Officials declined to identify the specific companies involved.

Stephanie Zimmermann

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