March 29, 2007
Consumer Alert – Solicitations Regarding Certain Mortgage Programs
WASHINGTON — The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has received inquiries and complaints from consumers who received solicitations about a "Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Program" that entitles certain homeowners to cash grants or equity disbursements. Some of these solicitations may be read to indicate that the federal bank and thrift regulatory agencies endorse or support the offers.
These solicitations appear to be a deceptive effort to encourage consumers to apply for a mortgage loan secured by the consumer's home. The agencies do not endorse or sponsor particular mortgage loan programs. Additionally, the federal law known as CRA does not contain programs as described in the solicitations, nor do such programs exist. The agencies caution the public about loan solicitations or other offers from lenders or mortgage brokers that offer consumers cash as part of a "Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Program."
The Community Reinvestment Act is a federal law that was enacted in 1977. It encourages depository institutions to help meet the credit needs of their communities, including low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, in ways that are consistent with safe and sound banking operations. The CRA does not entitle individuals to any grants or loans.
Consumers should be very suspicious of conducting business with lenders or mortgage brokers that make deceptive claims. Individuals who are considering taking out a loan using their house as security are urged to shop around. Comparing loan programs offered by a variety of different lenders can help consumers get a better deal. This online pamphlet, issued by the agencies, Looking for the Best Mortgage: Shop, Compare, Negotiate, contains useful information about shopping for home loans: http://www.federalreserve.gov/pubs/mortgage/mortb_1.htm
Consumers who have complaints about national banks should contact the OCC's Customer Assistance Group (CAG). The CAG may be reached at:
1301 McKinney Street, Suite 3450
Houston, Texas 77010-9050
- Looking for the Best Mortgage: Shop, Compare, Negotiate