For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
February 6, 2001
National Consumer Protection Week
By the President of the United States of America
More Americans than ever are realizing the
American dream of homeownership. At the same time, an
increasing number of homeowners are living the nightmare of
overwhelming debt and home foreclosure resulting from fraudulent
lending practices. Subprime lending -- the extension of high-rate,
high-fee loans to people considered to be high-risk borrowers -- has
grown substantially in recent years. Unfortunately,
fraudulent and abusive lending practices have also grown.
High-cost lending is not limited to home
mortgages. Check cashing outlets, payday loan companies, rent-to-own
stores, subprime auto lenders, and pawn shops are additional examples
of high-cost lenders.
While it is crucial
that as many consumers as possible have access to credit, their access
must not be hindered by unlawful lending practices. Federal law
enforcement agencies have increased their enforcement activities to
stop lenders who engage in fraudulent and abusive lending
practices. In addition, Federal agencies and consumer groups
have implemented aggressive education campaigns to help consumers learn
how to safeguard the equity in their homes.
Consumers can protect themselves from loan fraud by taking some
commonsense precautions, including comparison shopping among several
lenders, negotiating, and resisting, indeed refusing to yield to,
pressure to sign any loan papers they don't
understand. Nonprofit credit and housing counseling services
are available to help consumers manage their credit and make decisions
about loans and loan terms.
To help protect
consumers, the Federal Trade Commission, the National Association of
Consumer Agency Administrators, the U.S. Postal Service, the U.S.
Postal Inspection Service, the National Association of Attorneys
General, the Department of Justice, and private consumer organizations
have joined forces to inform Americans about their rights as borrowers,
about the responsibilities of lenders, and about protecting their
assets. This information is available in writing, by
telephone, and online.
I encourage all
Americans to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about how
to protect themselves against fraudulent and abusive lending
practices. By becoming wise and well-informed consumers, we
can reduce the incidence of fraud and deception in the marketplace.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President
of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby
proclaim February 5 through February 10, 2001, as National Consumer
Protection Week. I call upon government officials, industry
leaders, consumer advocates, the media, and the American people to
participate in programs helping citizens to be responsible and wise
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have
hereunto set my hand
day of February, in the year of our Lord two thousand one, and of the
Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and
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