As announced in this week’s BBA Week, the Consumer Finance Working Group is now the Consumer Finance Committee. The Committee will review consumer finance products and assess recent problems that have arisen. Composed of lawyers who practice in the Massachusetts state courts and in the federal court, and who represent both creditors and debtors, the timing of the group’s work could not be better as national attention has focused on matters of consumer protection.
Just last month, Attorney General Martha Coakley joined President Barack Obama as he signed into law the historic financial reforms included in the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. That bill creates the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to help protect consumers when they make investments, take out mortgages, and use credit cards.
Here’s a snapshot at what the BBA has been doing in this area.
Since Spring 2008, the BBA’s Consumer Finance Working Group has been looking at several issues including the proliferation of deceptive “loan modification programs” on the radio and Internet, and the explosion in consumer medical debt and issues with consumer medical debt collections. Adam Ruttenberg and Andrew Dennington, co-chairs of the Consumer Finance Working Group and now of the Consumer Finance Committee, focused their efforts on amending the Attorney General regulations on consumer debt collection after meeting members of the AG’s Consumer Protection Division. The group proposed amendments to the AG regulations which would largely track the more modern federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, and recent revisions of Massachusetts Division of Banks regulations regarding activities by licensed debt collectors. These amendments were included in the First Report of Consumer Finance Working Group and will ensure that debt collection practices that are unfair or deceptive when conducted by a licensed debt collector, will likewise be unfair or deceptive when performed by a creditor.
After the BBA Council approved the Report and the recommendations at its July meeting, they were submitted to the Attorney General’s office. Building upon the momentum generated by the First Report, the new Consumer Finance Committee held their first official meeting on August 10th to explore options for their next project. In the meantime, on September 15th the Consumer Finance Committee will co-sponsor a CLE on the implementation of the new consumer protection legislation. The CLE will feature a panel discussion on topics such as the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, enhancement of bank-affiliate and bank-insider transaction restrictions, and anti-predatory lending provisions.
– Kathleen M. Joyce
Government Relations Director
Boston Bar Association