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Consumer advocates urge Federal Reserve Board to withdraw rescission proposal

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A group of nearly 300 attorneys, state and local legal services groups, and consumer and civil rights organizations urged the Federal Reserve Board to withdraw a proposal that, in some cases, would relinquish a borrower's right to an extended rescission under the Truth in Lending Act. In the law's current form, a rescission is a borrower's right to contest an illegal loan for up to three years after origination. The group of advocates said in their letter that rescission is "the single most effective tool homeowners have to stop foreclosure and avoid predatory loans." According to the letter, the Federal Reserve Board proposed an amendment in August to do away with that piece of the legislation and require a homeowner pay the entire amount demanded by the creditor before the creditor is legally required to cancel security interest on the home. However, the federal docket states that extended rescissions are permitted, but only in certain circumstances. For example, if one month after a borrower opened a line of credit they realized their interest rate was misstated, the borrower could have up to three years to rescind their mortgage. The Federal Reserve Board surveyed borrowers about their understanding of the law throughout late-2009 and early 2010 and noted, "one participant misunderstood the text about the extended right of rescission, and incorrectly thought that she would have three years to cancel her account in all cases." The group of advocates, which includes the National Community Reinvestment Coalition and the NAACP, does not agree with this. "This proposed changed order will undermine the primary purpose and power of TILA’s extended right of rescission," the letter said. "At the depths of the worst foreclosure crisis since the Great Depression, we are surprised that the Federal Reserve Board has proposed rules that would eviscerate the primary protection homeowners currently have to escape abusive loans and avoid foreclosure." Write to Christine Ricciardi.

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