The California Association of Mortgage Brokers has published what it calls the first "official definition" of predatory lending, saying consumers can use the standard to protect themselves from unscrupulous lenders."We want to be sure that efforts to deliver the American Dream do not become a nightmare due to dishonest predatory lending practices," CAMB president Jon Eberhardt said at a news conference. Mr. Eberhardt, president of Prime Equity Management Inc., Torrance, Calif., said the "clear and concise" definition is not designed to head off legislation in California, which has not yet taken up the issue of abusive lending practices at the state level. Rather, it is an effort to teach consumers how to spot illegal or unethical practices and protect themselves from wrongdoers. "This is more targeted at education," he said. As defined by CAMB, predatory lending is "placing consumers in loan products with significantly worse terms and/or higher costs than loans offered to similarly qualified consumers in the region for the primary purpose of enriching the originator and with little or no regard for the costs to the consumer."

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