The National Foundation for Credit Counseling, Silver Spring, Md., has announced that it is stepping up its counseling and education efforts across the country to help homeowners avoid foreclosure.The NFCC, which boasts a network of nonprofit, community-based agencies with nearly 1,000 offices, said consumers can receive immediate assistance by calling its toll-free hotline at 866-557-2227. The group said the number of foreclosed homes surged by 58% in the first six months of 2007, representing approximately 573,400 homes in danger. The organization can be found online at http://www.nfcc.org.

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