INDIANAPOLIS (Legal Newsline) - Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller announced on Wednesday that he will co-chair the National Association of Attorneys General Consumer Protection Committee, which focuses on combating consumer financial fraud.
Zoller¹s responsibilities as committee co-chairman will be to seek out identity theft, foreclosure scams, deceptive business practices and other financial fraud schemes.
"The consumer protection role of the attorney general is very important during these times of economic difficulties," Zoeller said.
"Too many of our citizens are vulnerable to a growing number of scams being run by ever more sophisticated rings that prey on the elderly, unemployed and those who are desperate for financial help. Working together, attorneys general are better able to provide the greater protection needed while pursuing those who have defrauded consumers in our states."
The Consumer Protection Committee was established to help state attorneys general better improve the enforcement of consumer protection laws. It also coordinates law enforcement training opportunities, supports multi-state consumer protection enforcement efforts and promotes an exchange among the states and federal agencies to aid investigations.
"Protecting consumers from frauds and scams is critical in challenging economic times," North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, who was elected President of the National Association of Attorneys General in June and appointed Zoeller to his position, said.
"I'm pleased to have Attorney General Zoeller serve in this key role to help coordinate consumer protection efforts among states."
In his new position, Zoeller will examine the effect that the newly passed Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act will have on state consumer protection laws. This law, which takes effect in October, creates a new Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
The law also seeks to clarify issues of state preemption, especially where state regulators holding banks and financial institutions accountable are concerned. In the past, individual states have not been allowed to take action against banks for state law violations.
Zoeller will also be part of a working group that researches the new law and any implications to make sure that regulations under the statute provide for all states to have enforcement abilities provided by the statute.
In a separate announcement on Wednesday, Zoeller revealed that his office is the recipient of a $53,500 consumer education grant, which was awarded by a special committee of state attorneys general and is funded by a multi-state settlement with national retailer Sears.
The money will be used to develop educational programs for those most at risk for identity theft scams, including senior citizens and college students throughout the state, with the implementation of a train-the-trainer program which offers online identity theft prevention presentations via Webinar for consumer advocacy groups.