Yet again, the difference between having right-wing extremist Mark Obenshain (shudddderrrr) as Virginia Attorney General, and having Mark Herring as our AG, is immense. In this case, Herring is fighting against a despicable practice – predatory lending. “…on matters large and on matters small, we are going to fight for the rights of Virginia consumers. But there’s one place where we need to do more and we’re going to do more. I read a few weeks ago that Virginia is now considered the predatory lending capital of the East Coast, and I cannot accept that. It hurts our reputation as a state, and more than that, it means that here are Virginians who are being hurt, and I cannot accept that.” Full remarks on the “flip.”
P.S. “Democrats” like Dick Saslaw who support predatory lending should be ashamed of themselves.
Thank you very much Ms. Martinez, great to be with Commissioner Face, and Director
Cordray, welcome to Richmond and thank you so much for coming to Virginia and shining a spotlight on this issue.
Director Cordray is actually a former Attorney General of Ohio, so it’s great to know that we have someone at the helm of the CFPB who understands the job and role of state attorneys general in protecting consumers. A few months ago he spoke about predatory lending at the National Association of Attorneys General and his address really helped sharpen my focus on these issues.
So again, thank you Director Cordray for being here, and for being such a great partner
with my office and other attorneys general in protecting our citizens.
As attorney general, it’s my job to look out for Virginia consumers. My office and I are the voice of consumers on regulatory matters like electric rates, and we defend your rights when business try to take short cuts, or abuse customers, or exploit consumers with illegal business practices.
It’s a duty I take seriously, and we’ve been able to do some really good work over the last year.
Just a few months ago, we partnered with Director Cordray and the CFPB to end some really egregious debt collection practices by a company called Freedom Furniture and Electronics that was targeting veterans, military servicemembers, and their families.
We’re going after big Wall Street investment banks that defrauded Virginians and our state-government retirement system during the height of the mortgage and financial crisis.
And we do great work on behalf of individual constituents every single day. Maybe someone’s cable company charged them $16.82 cents when they shouldn’t have. Well we will fight to get that $16.82 back.
So on matters large and small, we are here to defend the rights of Virginia consumers.
But there’s one place where we need to do more, and we’re going to do more.
I read a few weeks ago that Virginia was considered the “predatory lending capital of the East Coast” and I cannot accept that.
It hurts our reputation as a state, and more than that, it means that people are being hurt. We should be ashamed of that.
Back when I was in the Senate I worked to crack down on predatory lending and enact some regulations on these operations, though they didn’t go nearly as far as I would have liked. While we made some important reforms with respect to payday loans, we saw abusive tactics shift over to car title loans and then to open ended loans.
We’ve learned that some of these lenders are creative, they’re determined, and too many are willing to play fast and loose with the rules, even at the expense of Virginia consumers.
So now I’m in a new role, as attorney general. And we have resources and authorities that I think have been underutilized.
I’m tired of seeing our citizens get taken advantage of and their financial lives ruined just because they found themselves in a difficult situation, and I’m not going to stand for it.
In addition to some great news that Director Cordray is going to be discussing later, I’m really excited to announce today that we’re going to be launching a multi-faceted effort from the Attorney General’s Office to fight predatory lending here in Virginia.
By May 1, I will have on my desk, a plan for reorganizing and revitalizing my entire Consumer Protection Section, with a core focus on fighting predatory lending.
This is a process that’s underway and we’re exploring a number of strategies, including:
Enforcement actions against lenders who withhold terms or operate outside of their licenses.
Education and prevention through financial literacy resources that we can make available on a revamped consumer protection website.
Strengthened and expanded partnerships with the CFPB or other states when we need additional resources or when bad actors are crossing state lines.
A reexamination our statutory authority to see if we need additional tools to help protect Virginian consumers, or whether additional legislation is needed to close loopholes that lenders have exploited.
And we may even look at ways to encourage and support financial tools, like low dollar loans, that meet the needs of Virginians without ensnaring them in an endless cycle of debt.
You all know, and I know, that too many Virginians are getting caught in financial quicksand with these products, that in some cases are designed to fail from the second they’re sold.
So the status quo is not working for Virginians, and we are now taking a closer look at the situation here in Virginia. We’re looking at what our office HAS done, and what we CAN do to protect Virginians from predatory loans.
And today is a big part of that process. I have my entire consumer protection team here with me today because we want to hear from Director Cordray, Commissioner Face, our assembled experts, and most importantly, from the public about what’s going on and how we can help protect Virginians.
As we’re working to determine the best way forward for our office, we look forward to working collaboratively with the public, our partners at the CFPB and SCC, the Poverty Law Center, Virginia Interfaith, and others to determine what we should do in terms of:
education and prevention,
new legislation, or
other financial tools for borrowers.
**This is one of my top priorities this year–a revitalized consumer protection operation that helps keep financially vulnerable Virginians out of the debt trap.**
So again to Director Cordray, thank you for coming here, thank you for shining a light on this problem, and I look forward to hearing more from you today about federal efforts, and I hope you know that you will always have a ready and willing partner here in Virginia.