As we’ve pointed out on this website previously, there is a growing movement around the country wherein state attorneys general are stepping up when it comes to matters of consumer protection – particularly as the federal government, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) takes a step back.
Well now, with the state of the CFPB in limbo, there is a growing sense that “the AGs are on solid ground” when it comes to consumer protection – and, in fact, “may have more power than they realize.”
These thoughts come to us by way of an opinion piece over at The Hill, written by Mark Totten, who has served as a federal prosecutor and is a member of the law faculty at Michigan State University College of Law.
Why does Totten have such a rosy outlook on state AGs leading the charge – particularly when the CFPB seems to be falling into “hostile hands?” It all comes down to the Dodd Frank Act of 2010.
As Totten explains:
“Tucked away in the act was an obscure provision that empowered state attorneys general to enforce federal laws protecting consumers in the financial marketplace. These laws include a new prohibition against any ‘unfair, deceptive, or abusive act or practice’ in the offering of any financial product or service, and arguably a long list of consumer finance laws already on the books.
With only a few sentences, the drafters ensured that if the [CFPB] were ever compromised, another cop would always have authority to enforce the law. Absent permission, states cannot enforce federal law. But here Congress empowered the states to wield the federal sword.”
To look at the application of these powers in practical terms, Totten takes a look at recent student lending cases. We would also refer readers to our News Room to see examples of state AGs in action when it comes to the timeshare sector, our primary area of focus.
As Totten points out, consumer protection does not need to be a partisan issue; he notes that “a recent study shows several Republican attorneys general lead strong consumer protection programs,” alongside their Democratic colleagues.
So, what comes next? As he notes (emphasis ours):
“…when Congress empowered state attorneys general to enforce federal law, it created a fail-stop for such a time as this. Now the states must act.”
To read more of what Totten had to say, we encourage you to check out his full piece over at The Hill.
Led by Attorney Michael D. Finn with 50 years of experience, the Finn Law Group is a consumer protection firm specializing in timeshare law. Our lawyers understand vacation ownership as well as the many pitfalls of the secondary market of timeshare resales. If you feel you have been victimized by a timeshare company, contact our offices for a free consultation. Know your rights as a consumer and don’t hesitate to drop us a line with any questions or concerns.