A major public awareness campaign that hopes to safeguard consumers against predatory lending and other financial abuses has taken off in Northern California.

The City of Sacramento, mortgage financier Freddie Mac, and the Home Loan Counseling Center are major participants in the new campaign, dubbed “Don’t Borrow Trouble,” which features an education and counseling service to help families avoid predatory lending scams such as exorbitant interest rates, excessive fees and pressuring tactics. 

Predatory lending practices occur when lenders use dicey sales tactics to entice borrowers into loans with high fees and interest rates. Predatory lenders usually target seniors and low-income borrowers.

“Predatory lending practices attack the heart of our communities. These practices can strip away home equity and trap unwary borrowers in a dismal cycle that ultimately replaces home ownership with foreclosure,” said Craig Nickerson, vice president of Expanding Markets at Freddie Mac.

Advertisements have begun on Regional Transit buses and Sacramento radio stations, encouraging consumers to call the Northern California Don’t Borrow Trouble help line at (916) 646-2004. The help line is also a resource for those who find themselves currently in trouble with foreclosure.

The Home Loan Counseling Center will provide training to community and faith-based organizations and other groups as a way to reach people who are most likely to need information and assistance.

Organizations participating in the campaign include Wells Fargo Bank, U.S. Bank, River City Bank, American River Bank, Washington Mutual Bank, Sacramento Housing Redevelopment Agency, Human Rights Fair Housing, Legal Services of Northern California and USC Credit Union.

Pioneered in Boston by Mayor Thomas M. Menino and the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council, the Don’t Borrow Trouble campaign has spread to 36 locations with the help of Freddie Mac.

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Send tips or a Letter to the Editor to jessica@inman.com or call (510) 658-9252, ext. 133.

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