CONSUMER REPORTS - They arrive in the mail all the time and keep popping up on your computer screen-home-refinancing ads that promise rock-bottom mortgage rates and easy approval.
They're tempting, but Consumer Reports says watch out-the offers can be misleading.
The Federal Trade Commission is investigating deceptive mortgage ads and has created fake ones based on real come-ons in order to warn consumers. Some red flags: promises such as "guaranteed approval" or "low fixed rates" with no details, or ads that look like they're from a government agency. And be aware that in most cases it is illegal for a company to charge you anything before they have offered you a loan deal in writing and you have accepted it.
The FTC and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have pored through hundreds of ads, and recently they warned about 30 companies that they may be breaking the law.
Consumer Reports says the best way to get a good loan from legitimate lenders: Buff up your credit score by clearing up black marks and errors with the three credit bureaus, Transunion, Experian, and Equifax. And pay off as much debt as you can.
It's also worth checking the Federal website MakingHomeAffordable.gov.
A good place to start to find a legitimate commercial lender is with a bank or credit union where you already have an account. And don't forget that you can get free copies of your credit reports once a year from AnnualCreditReport.com.
Complete Ratings and recommendations on all kinds of products, including appliances, cars & trucks, and electronic gear, are available on Consumer Reports' website. Subscribe to ConsumerReports.org.
(Copyright © 2013 Consumers Union of U.S., Inc. All Rights Reserved.)