Happy National Consumer Protection Week, America!
The designation began 14 years ago, but this year it may be taken the more seriously. With the $25 billion attorneys' general mortgage servicing settlement that encourages (or bullies depending on your perspective) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to offer principal reduction mods, the timing of this week seems oddly perfect.
In a statement released Monday by the White House, President Barack Obama said, “irresponsible lending and deceptive practices pose serious risks to consumers and our economy alike,” and reinforced his goal to give Americans “clear and concise information” needed to make financial decisions.
This is in keeping with the “Know Before You Owe” campaign the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau launched last year, which aims to simplify loan applications to make it easier for applicants to compare options.
A host of sponsors of this week plan to enlighten consumers on how best to protect themselves from fraud and abuse. The long list of sponsors includes Department of Housing and Urban Development, the National Association of Attorneys General, the AARP and the FBI — just to name a few.
Given the amount of fraud that has been discovered in the past few weeks, from Facebook "granny" scams, to the frequent reports of mortgage brokers, real estate agents and beyond being busted for mortgage fraud, it seems that consumers could benefit from the information flowing from the dozens of partners for the week.
Hopefully consumers will actually pay attention and not slot it into the useless category along with weeks like “National Pancake Week,” which is an actual week and took place at the end of February.
So, here’s to National Consumer Protection Week! Consumers, please celebrate responsibly.