Pennsylvania’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative

In November, 2015, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced the launch of his administration’s new Consumer Financial Protection Initiative. Governor Wolf explained that the purpose of this consumer protection initiative is “to educate the public about financial protection and best practices in a concise, efficient way.” As a part of this initiative, some of the Department of Banking and Securities office and staff have been consolidated into a new “Financial Services for Consumers and Businesses” division.

This program has four primary goals:

Protect against “easy money” lending scams

The first goal is to educate consumers about, and help protect them from, illegal so-called “easy money” loans from out-of-state lenders not licensed to do business in Pennsylvania, many of whom advertise extensively on the Internet. The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities (DOBS) explains that these are primarily short-term loans, ranging in amount between one hundred and one thousand dollars, sought by people who need cash quickly and without hassles. These loans can require consumers to pay from three hundred to one thousand annual percentage interest, meaning that borrowers must pay back far more cash than they receive. One type is secured by a family’s car title; inability to make payments can cost a family its means of transportation.   The DOBS will begin working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to identify and share information with consumers at risk of losing their cars because of these predatory lending tactics.

Identify and prevent elder financial abuse

Senior citizens are increasingly at risk of having their retirement savings and financial security stolen by individuals who would take advantage of them. As part of the Consumer Financial Protection Initiative, the DOBS will be working with the Investor Protection Trust and the Department of Aging to reach the professional communities (including healthcare and legal professionals) with whom the senior communities interact most frequently, helping them to identify signs of elder abuse and offer information and resources to stop it.

Help working adults save for retirement

As pension plans increasingly become a relic of bygone days, the Governor’s office notes that not enough citizens are putting away sufficient funds for a comfortable retirement. The DOBS is looking to identify new ways to help consumers save for retirement, as well as creating awareness of tools that already exist to help workers increase their savings.

Establish an interagency financial education exchange

Currently, numerous state departments offer financial information and education for consumers, but these agencies historically have not communicated with each other regarding the services they offer or the information they provide. The Governor’s initiative hopes to integrate all available resources into a single consumer exchange – what his office calls a “‘one-stop shop’ for help on financial services and products.”

Consult a Philadelphia consumer protection lawyer

If you or someone in your family has been the victim of an illegal predatory loan or any form of financial abuse, it is in your best interest to seek advice from a skilled consumer protection attorney familiar with Pennsylvania’s extensive consumer protection laws. The experienced lawyers of The Kim Law Firm, LLC are committed to standing up for consumers and protecting their rights. Contact The Kim Law Firm for a consultation today.