Montgomery, Alabama –
The Alabama Banking Department is warning consumers to be wary of companies or individuals that offer to help them change the terms of mortgage loans. Banking Department officials said Thursday that due to current economic conditions there has been an increase in the number of home owners seeking to modify the terms of their loans. Modifications could allow a loan to be reinstated or reduce the
amount of the borrower's payments. Officials say some individuals or companies charge up front fees and promise a 100 percent success rate. In fact, officials say some loans cannot be modified, and the agency says companies may not
charge up-front or advance fees under Alabama law. Consumers can verify whether a company is licensed as a mortgage broker by going to the banking department Web site or calling 1-866-465-2279.

Alabama's unemployment rate rose in November to 6.1 percent. That's an increase from October's figure of 5.5 percent. State Industrial Relations Director Tom Surtees said the rate remains below the national average of 6.7 percent.

Electronic gambling is returning to Birmingham. A commission voted Thursday to let gambling magnate Milton McGregor install a new type of gaming machine at the
Birmingham Race Course. It resembles a casino-style slot machine but is based on horse racing.

Four men from southwest Ala. have been charged with participating in a string of bank robberies. Baldwin County Sheriff' Huey Mack Jr. announced the arrests Thursday. All are accused of robbing banks in Magnolia Springs, Lillian, and in
Lowndes County.

Winston County authorities are trying to learn the identity of a man found dead in a Haleyville camper fire. Haleyville Police Chief Kyle Reogas said the man died early Tuesday morning when flames consumed a recreational vehicle on Ellenburg