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American consumers have witnessed an well-publicized increase in the number business corruption scandals that have played out over the last ten years. Just mention “Enron”, or “Martha Stewart” and the first thought coming to mind is business corruption. While many of these scandals have involved gluttonous executives and their cravings for absurd levels of luxury, the American consumer now needs to be more vigilant than ever in reviewing the boilerplate language of a contract and before accepting the terms of a car loan, or a mortgage loan, or a line of credit, or a purchase agreement, or a business services contract, or a credit card offer.

The reason is where business corruption is prevalent, consumer abuse and manipulation is likely to be prevalent.

Just look at Cleveland Ohio which has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. Many of the foreclosures involve predatory lending which led to the ruination of an eager first-home buyer. Or consider student loan lenders, who violated the terms of their own loans and reaped millions of extra profit dollars based upon additional and illegal compound interest calculations. Insurance companies have been caught charging illegal premiums for additional coverage which really was not additional coverage.

Today’s consumer must read and challenge any terms or conditions on a purchase, or risk a heavy and costly consequence. There are some dedicated public officials who are attacking business corruption, but for the most part, the consumer is on their own. Still, click on “business corruption” for an excellent article discussing Elliot Spitzer’s supreme efforts to curb business corruption in America.

Car purchases are loaded with extra and unnecessary fees and charges, and impose illegal and painful penalties and charges for any breach of the contract. Mortgage lenders and refinance dealers have overreached in their contracts where the slightest late payment could accelerate default provisions on a home. The prudent consumer should absolutely shop the mortgage around not just on the interest rate and the costs, but also the terms and conditions that are attached. The terms and conditions may just prove to involve greater dollars than saving a one eighth percent on the interest rate.

The consumer who suspects something is not right should contact a lawyer to review the deal. Even if the amount of money is small, in approriate circumstances, a class action lawsuit might be filed to spead the costs and charges among hundreds of consumers who have been similarly mistreated.

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