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HARTFORD, Conn. – A coalition of 643 private and public organizations including Freddie Mac, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, the Connecticut Attorney General’s Office and the State Treasurer’s Office last week launched a major public education campaign designed to prevent predatory lending throughout Connecticut. The Connecticut Don’t Borrow TroubleT campaign, in Spanish and English, uses brochures, the www.dontborrowtrouble.com Web site, transit posters, billboards and radio public service announcements to educate consumers who are the most vulnerable to predatory lending – the elderly, minorities and low- to moderate-income individuals. The Don’t Borrow Trouble campaign was pioneered in Boston by Mayor Thomas Menino and the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council. Freddie Mac is the principal sponsor of the campaign’s expansion throughout the U.S. and has brought the campaign to 40 locations in the country. The new Connecticut campaign will use Connecticut’s 2-1-1 infoline. Callers will be referred to trained professionals who can offer free legal advice for purchasing a home, refinancing, consolidating debt, taking out a home equity loan, and mortgage foreclosure prevention, as well as be referred to appropriate legal or financial experts. The Connecticut Department of Banking said it hopes that consumers use the various resources for advice before they get into financial difficulty when purchasing a home, refinancing, consolidating debt, or taking out a home equity loan. The help line, they add, is also a resource for those who find themselves currently in trouble with foreclosure. Commenting on the campaign, U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) commended the sponsors of the Don’t Borrow Trouble campaign “for their efforts to attack the problem of predatory lending, which has devastated so many low-income families and elderly citizens. “While I believe the federal government must address abusive lending practices nationally through effective legislation and regulation, there is also a need for individual, state-led efforts. This Connecticut educational program, jointly backed by state agencies and the private and non-profit sectors, will be very effective in educating people about the warning signs of predatory lending,” Lieberman said. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal added that the “statewide program will enable Connecticut consumers to borrow smart and avoid the trouble of predatory lending.” Additional organizations participating in the Connecticut campaign include: Department of Banking, Department of Consumer Protection, Connecticut Housing Finance Authority , and Connecticut Association of RealtorsT. In addition, several housing counseling agencies throughout the state are participating.

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