Bush: Dial 1-800-OOPS for housing help

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. homeowners who could face crippling mortgage payments will have a hard time getting help if they call a telephone number President George W. Bush recommended on Thursday -- he gave them the wrong number.

“I have a message for every homeowner worried about rising mortgage payments: The best you can do for your family is to call 1-800-995-HOPE,” Bush said after a White House meeting with administration officials and lenders on a new plan to help.

Unfortunately he was a couple digits off, it is actually 1-888-995-HOPE (4673). That gets you through to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit group which offers free housing counseling for homeowners.

Moments after Bush completed his remarks, a White House aide told reporters the president misspoke and gave the correct number.

Calls to the wrong number Bush gave out were met with a busy signal. A search on the Internet showed it belongs to the Freedom Christian Academy which offers religious-based curriculum for home schooling and is located in Ponder, Texas northwest of Dallas.

Reporting by Jeremy Pelofsky, Editing by David Storey