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Scam warnings hit the silver screen

March 29, 2009

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— The Federal Reserve wants to warn about foreclosure scams that are increasingly preying on homeowners as the recession worsens.

Starting April 10, the Fed will run ads in movie houses across seven states — Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio — that have been hard hit by home foreclosures. Scam artists have seized on the situation, charging people for help that is free from nonprofit groups working with the government, Fed officials say.

“Don’t be taken advantage of,” the Fed ad tells viewers. “It shouldn’t hurt to get help.”

The 30-second ads direct people to the Fed’s Web site — federalreserve.gov — to get tips for avoiding foreclosure scams. “It’s information you can trust from the Federal Reserve,” the ad says.

It’s the first time the Fed is turning to movie theaters to get its message out. The ads will run for seven days in 28 theaters in 14 cities.

A record 5.4 million American homeowners with a mortgage of any kind, or nearly 12 percent, were at least one month late or in foreclosure at the end of last year, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported.

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