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WASHINGTON -Even though anti-predatory lending legislation is expected to be taken up by the House later this year, Reps. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), Mel Watt (D-N.C.) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.) introduced a federal anti-predatory bill March 9 designed to afford homeowners better protection from predatory lenders while ensuring that credit for home ownership remains available for consumers with impaired credit. H.R.1182 – “Prohibit Predatory Lending Act of 2005″ – is modeled after North Carolina’s successful anti-predatory lending law which is widely considered the model state statute for preventing abusive lending while preserving consumer access to credit. The measure would eliminate existing loopholes in the current federal law by broadening protections already found in states with predatory lending laws, to the entire U.S. Among the provisions of the bill, it: prohibits flipping; discourages lenders from charging exorbitant fees or prepayment penalties; bans mandatory arbitration clauses; prevents mortgage originators from disguising fees to evade HOEPA protections; and bars lenders from making loans without considering the borrower’s ability to repay the loan. In introducing the bill, Miller said the measure “protects vulnerable consumers without cutting off credit for lower income borrowers. It’s time that all American consumers have the protection that North Carolina consumers now have.” A release from Rep. Miller’s office said the bill’s sponsors hope the core protections in H.R. 1182 will serve as a baseline for Committee debate on anti-predatory lending legislation the House Financial Services Committee is expected to have later this year. Rep. Frank stressed the importance of there being a federal anti-predatory lending law even though several states have their own anti-predatory lending laws. Given the assertion by the Comptroller of the Currency that national banks do not have to follow state lending laws, said Frank, it is important for us to provide rules at the federal level. Rep. Watt said the federal government should follow North Carolina’s example and guarantee that borrowers in every state have the same protections as the citizens of North Carolina. -

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