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Contact: AJ Freeney-Ruiz
Indianapolis, IN - Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita launched the second of three advertising blitzes this week as part of the $1.8 million Indiana Investment Watch awareness campaign to inform Hoosiers about safe investing and avoiding fraud.
The second series of advertisements urges Indiana homebuyers to go to www.IndianaInvestmentWatch.com to learn more about mortgage loans and to check the Secretary of State’s database to ensure their mortgage broker is licensed with the state. The advertising campaign will be featured on billboards, network television, cable television, radio, newspapers, consumer magazines and e-newsletters.
“This free educational campaign is timely, given Indiana’s high foreclosure rankings,” Rokita said. “We hope we can build awareness and help home buyers be more careful.”
No state taxpayer money is used to fund the campaign. The campaign is funded through state and national fines paid by brokers, investment houses and stock market investment companies for violations.
“Owning a home is the dream of many Hoosiers,” Rokita said. “It’s vital that consumers in Indiana are empowered with good information before a mortgage closing to ensure they can detect potential fraud and make well-informed decisions.”
The Office of the Indiana Secretary of State is responsible for licensing and regulating mortgage loan brokers, most of which are required to be licensed by the state. Visitors to the Web site can search the Secretary of State’s database to find out whether their broker is licensed. Hoosiers can also call the Secretary of State’s office at 1.800.223.8791 to find out whether their mortgage broker is licensed or exempt from licensing.
The Web site also provides important red flags when looking for mortgages, including shifting the closing date, “free” finance offers, loan flipping, undisclosed pre-payment penalties and falsifying income to obtain loans.
The Indiana Investment Watch Web site provides a link to file complaints with the Secretary of State’s office. From 2003 to 2005, the Enforcement Division and Prosecution Assistance Unit investigated 623 cases of investment-related fraud.
In 2005, investigators from the Secretary of State’s office took part in a sweep of licensed loan brokers in various parts of the state. Thirty-two examinations were conducted, resulting in the discovery of 37 separate violations of the Loan Broker Act. As a result of these violations, Rokita’s office entered into seven consent agreements totaling $3,300 in civil penalties, eight deficiency letters, two enforcement cases and the termination of three loan broker licenses.
The Indiana Investment Watch Web site was established in March to help Hoosiers check on the backgrounds of investment advisors and mortgage loan brokers. The site also provides educational material to assist consumers with their money-related decisions.