April 1, 2009 / 7:27 PM / 10 years ago

Fed takes mortgage act to movie theaters

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke arrives to speak at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 10, 2009. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Superheroes aren’t the only ones saving the day in movie theaters. This month, the Federal Reserve aims to help struggling homeowners by placing advertisements in theaters telling people how to avoid mortgage scams.

“The purpose...is to reach out to an audience that the Fed has possibly not reached before, to try and get people’s attention about mortgage scams and direct them to our website where we have tips for people to avoid these scams,” said Sandra Braunstein, director of the Fed’s Division of Consumer and Community Affairs.

The Fed’s ads will be tucked-in amid movie previews in 28 theaters in 14 cities in Arizona, California, Georgia, Florida, Michigan, Nevada and Ohio, starting April 10.

“We think by targeting markets with high foreclosure activity, we’ll reach people who may not think about going to our website (federalreserve.gov),” Braunstein said.

The mortgage market meltdown has caused scam artists to prey on struggling homeowners with fake promises of easy refinancing.

Victims often end up paying thousands of dollars in fees but receive little or no services. Some ultimately lose their homes to foreclosure, according to law enforcement officials.

This is the first time the Fed has put a consumer awareness ad in movie theaters, and the agency will be looking at hits on its website to gauge its effectiveness.

“At this point we’re not sure about results but we thought it was an innovative way to try and reach people to tell them about these resources, so we decided to give it a try.” Braunstein said.

Superman would likely approve.

Reporting by Nancy Waitz; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte

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