S.C. Lawyer Warns Homebuyers About Unfair Lending Practices

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Columbia, S.C. attorney Bert Louthian reacts to lawsuit against LendingTree for allegedly failing to tell consumers about "hidden fees."

Fortunately for South Carolinians, our state passed a law in 2004 that gives us some of the strongest protection in the nation from unfair loans

State authorities have just filed a lawsuit against an online mortgage exchange company for allegedly charging hidden fees, highlighting the need for consumers to be alert for unfair lending practices, warns a Columbia, S.C. attorney.

"In this time of nationwide financial distress, it's more important than ever to make sure you're not being taken advantage of on home loans and other consumer transactions," said Bert Louthian, a trial lawyer with 25 years of experience. His personal injury practice, the Louthian Law Firm, also assists clients who have been the victims of predatory lenders.

The issue of hidden fees came to light last month when a prosecutor in South Carolina's Upstate region filed a civil lawsuit against LendingTree, an online mortgage exchange business based in Charlotte, NC.

Thirteenth Circuit Solicitor Robert Ariail alleged LendingTree failed to tell buyers that it charged fees to lenders, and that those fees were ultimately passed on to the buyer. The lawsuit also alleged that LendingTree told customers that it was not a mortgage broker. The company has denied those allegations.

The case, State of South Carolina v. LendingTree, LLC (No. 6:08-cv-03044-HFF), is pending in U.S. District Court in Greenville, S.C. Louthian is not connected to the suit against LendingTree and did not offer an opinion on the case's merits.

LendingTree connects potential homebuyers with multiple loan offers. The company's website says it has facilitated more than 23 million loan requests and $185 billion in closed loan transactions since 1998.

After customers sign up with LendingTree, loan requests are sent to as many as four lenders. Those lenders pay a fee to LendingTree to be matched with potential borrowers. A second fee is paid when the transaction is completed.

The lawsuit alleges those fees end up as hidden costs that the borrower pays.

"Fortunately for South Carolinians, our state passed a law in 2004 that gives us some of the strongest protection in the nation from unfair loans," Louthian said. "The South Carolina High Cost and Consumer Home Loans Act prohibits certain abusive practices, requires some loan information to be disclosed to the borrower in writing, and caps specific types of interest and fees."

About Louthian Law Firm

The Louthian Law Firm, P.A., located in Columbia, S.C., has been helping victims of unfair lending practices and personal injury accidents since 1959. For more information, contact the Louthian Law Firm at 1-866-410-5656 or visit the firm's Website at http://www.louthianlaw.com/.

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