The National Community Reinvestment Coalition is launching a campaign to press for stronger regulation of appraisal practices and stronger penalties to prevent appraisal fraud by lenders, appraisers, and real estate agents.In a new report, the NCRC contends that predatory lenders are free to pressure appraisers to inflate appraisals, and that its consumer rescue fund is finding more and more "upside down" mortgages. "Despite the soaring number of homeowners that have been cheated because of appraisal fraud, regulations to curb this practice have remained weak and ineffective," says the NCRC report, "Predatory Appraisals: $tealing the American Dream." Besides calling for tougher federal and state enforcement of appraisal practices, the NCRC also recommends setting up a federal hotline that appraisers can use to report when they are pressured by a lender.

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