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I truly enjoyed reading “A Friend in Deed” (12/26/03). This article should be a clear reminder why it is important for close family members and friends to remain in constant contact with their elderly loved ones. Senior citizens and those who have some type of mental impairment or disability are most likely to be taken advantage of by predatory consumer businesses and scam artists that hide behind the cloak of fake smiles, invisible payment checks, and helping hands. This article comes at a good time for those who currently have a home or are in the market, or are deciding what to do with mounting bills and other expenses accumulated from overspending during the Christmas holiday. The terrible things that happened to the elderly victims identified in the article are merely the tip of the iceberg of the ever-increasing problem that is foreclosure in the metropolitan Washington area.

Deceptive foreclosures have devastating effects on those who are misleadingly convinced that they are being helped. Make no mistake about the educational background of a consumer having a lot to do with who is at risk of being defrauded—anyone with serious financial difficulties could end up a victim. To reduce the possibility of foreclosure, bankruptcy, and debt, it is important that consumers live within their means and spend wisely.

However sad and upsetting this article is, we need more like it to expose the realities of life and homeownership. The more consumer information is provided to the public, the better consumers are armed to ward off consumer-related crime, predatory business practices, and fraud. In general, a good real-estate lawyer would be very helpful in the decision-making process of buying, saving for, or refinancing a home. Such a lawyer can take the sting out of any confusing and/or misleading language in a real-estate contract, before the consumer considers signing his or her name on the dotted line.

There are many good sources of information available to help consumers faced with financial difficulties and possible foreclosure. Such information is a point-and-click away on the Internet or at the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs. Consumers must do both research and math before remotely considering being taken by someone’s lavish—and often fake—promises.

Senior citizens have the right to enjoy the homes they worked hard for and lived in all their lives. Anyone who is bent on compromising their living arrangements clearly places no value in nor has respect for the elderly. I often wonder what prompts anyone to take the path to fraud and deception, but to figure out how such people can live with themselves would take eternity and a miracle.

Southwest