Today’s news:

Predatory lenders on the prowl, District Attorney says

Residents spotting well-dressed people walking around their neighborhood and asking questions about their homes should be on guard that they could be predatory lenders.

Likewise are some in the neighborhood posing as lawyers or calling homeowners randomly on the phone and offering quick loans against the equity on their home at unbelievably low interest rates.

So said Jeff Ferguson, assistant district attorney for Kings County and the bureau chief of the Rackets Division at a Predatory Lending Town Hall meeting held recently at the Holy Family Church, 9719 Flatlands Avenue.

Kings County District Attorney Charles Hynes and Rep. Ed Towns held the event in Canarsie where foreclosures and predatory lending have skyrocketed in the borough.

The more than 150 people who attended the meeting were told to always check out the references of lenders with the local chamber of commerce and Better Business Bureau before taking any loans.

Towns noted predatory lenders have targeted elderly, minority, and financially inexperienced borrowers, disrupting families and destroying communities all across the country and adding to the financial crisis.

In Brooklyn, the problem has manifested in many ways, including the high rate of foreclosures and the lack of affordable housing, he said.

Towns also announced he is co-sponsoring a bill that will provide significant, new federal protections for payday loan consumers.

Titled the Payday Reform Act of 2009, the bill requires extended repayment plans, and enhancing warnings and disclosures provided to consumers.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, the payday loan practice is designed to keep borrowers in debt, costing American families $4.2 billion every year in predatory fees.

The measure calls for fees and interest rates to be capped at $15 for every $100 borrowed.

The bill also provides disclosures in English, Spanish, or the language in which the loan was negotiated.

“Consumers must be protected from the high fees and onerous provisions in these loans,” said Towns.

“I am working hard to pass the Payday Reform Act of 2009 because with more stringent safeguards, consumers will have a less expensive credit alternative.”

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