October 26, 2010 – by AnnaMaria Andriotis, SmartMoney

Robosigners are the new villains of the foreclosure mess: They’re the bank employees who signed off on thousands of documents without reviewing them. But banks aren’t the only ones speeding through the fine print. Consumers often do the same thing.

That cursory scan leaves many unaware of what they’ve committed to and — in the worst case — ends up costing them thousands more than expected. Dense contracts can include small monthly fees on a car loan, for example, totaling more than $1,400 over the life of a typical loan. Or a buried clause in a mortgage can leave a buyer on the hook for expensive repairs. And a typical sleight of hand with an adjustable rate mortgage could cost you $50,000 or more on a $300,000 loan.

It’s hard to blame consumers for not pulling out the magnifying glass: Loan documents are typically long and so full of legalese that few people can understand what they’re reading, let alone digest it quickly when a deal is on the line, consumer advocates say. “How can anyone be expected to read every word? It’s not possible,” says Linda Sherry, director of national priorities at Consumer Action, a consumer advocacy group.

Even so, there’s little consumers can do but plough through the documents. “Even though it can be daunting and you may not understand all of the fine print, you are agreeing to the terms when you sign,” says Charley Moore, founder of RocketLawyer.com, which helps consumers create legal documents. You can always hire a lawyer to review the documents before you sign them – and in many real estate deals, it’s recommended – but it’s ultimately your responsibility to understand what you sign.

Here’s what you need to look for and what to avoid when reviewing contracts before signing up for a home mortgage, car loan or life insurance policy:

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Read more: Consumers: Avoid Robosigning and Save – Spending – Rip-offs – SmartMoney.com http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/rip-offs/consumers-avoid-robosigning-and-save-thousands/#ixzz13ZDvzU9Y
Read more: Consumers: Avoid Robosigning and Save – Spending – Rip-offs – SmartMoney.com http://www.smartmoney.com/spending/rip-offs/consumers-avoid-robosigning-and-save-thousands/#ixzz13ZCwj5rU