CFPB, Fed officials crack down on fraud targeting military members
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is working with the Department of Defense, the Federal Trade Commission and the New York Attorney General to launch a database that will record information on companies and individuals who scam military personnel. The initiative, which will build the Repeat Offenders Against Military Database, is part of an ongoing commitment among the agencies to combat consumer financial fraud that targets members of the armed services and their relatives, the CFPB said. The ROAM database is a complement to the FTC's Consumer Sentinel Network, which gathers consumer complaints from across the United States, packing them into the database for review. The FTC believes its database will assess problems at the beginning of the process. Then, once the information is available, the ROAM database will be able to evaluate fraudulent activity to make sure the same players do not strike again. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman voiced support for the database, pointing to a $3.5 million settlement his office secured against unlicensed lender Rome Finance Co. Rome Finance operated storefronts called "SmartBuy" that targeted service members by offering them financing on high-priced electronics. Schneiderman says the military members ended up stuck in high-interest revolving credit contracts. "The ROAM database will allow us to act much more quickly to stop fraud against members of the military," Schneiderman said. "Had the ROAM database existed during our investigation of SmartBuy, we likely could have shut them down more quickly and saved countless servicemembers thousands of dollars each. This database will be an important tool in our ongoing, comprehensive effort to crack down on those unscrupulous individuals who prey on the men and women who serve our country." The database will launch in February. Law enforcement officials will be able to submit data and information on lending fraud incidents by sending emails to ROAMDatabase@cfpb.gov. Write to Kerri Panchuk.