BOISE, Idaho (Legal Newsline) - Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says the national foreclosure crisis was the dominant consumer protection issue in the state in 2010.
Wasden, who released his annual report on consumer protection activity on Tuesday, said the crisis hit Idaho especially hard.
"We received 261 complaints in this category, compared to 109 the previous year, when it ranked fourth on the top 10 list," Wasden said in a statement.
"To assist Idaho consumers who are dealing with mortgages and foreclosures, my office pursued several enforcement actions against deceptive loan modification companies, hired a housing counselor to assist Idaho homeowners, and implemented a public education program related to foreclosures, mortgage modifications, and purchasing a home.
"Last week, we delivered to the Legislature a comprehensive report on the impacts of the housing crisis within Idaho and steps that stakeholders may wish to consider for prevention of future problems."
But Wasden noted that the number of complaints about mortgage modification companies dropped by nearly 90 percent.
"In 2008, mortgage modifications were not on the radar screen. In 2009, they were the No. 1 complaint category, with more than 350 complaints filed. Last year, we received only 38 complaints, and mortgage modifications dropped to No. 6 on the list," he said.
"I believe that the significant decline in complaints is a result of our aggressive action to enforce Idaho law against the deceptive practices that were rampant in the loan modification industry."
Other significant consumer protection activity included litigation and settlements with pharmaceutical manufacturers concerning the marketing and pricing of their drugs, Wasden said.
Last year, the Attorney General's Office entered into three settlements, resulting in the recovery of nearly $5 million. And since 2005, the office has resolved eight average wholesale price cases with drug manufacturers, resulting in approximately $9.4 million recovered for Idaho taxpayers.
Also in 2010, the Attorney General's Office recovered $5,920,578 in restitution, the second largest amount ever recovered by the office. This equates to $10.18 for each taxpayer dollar appropriated for consumer operations, Wasden's office said.
The attorney general also recovered $536,237 in civil penalties, fees and costs.
In addition, the state received $25,989,570 last year, pursuant to the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement negotiated between the Attorney General's Office and tobacco manufacturers in 1998.
According to the Attorney General's Office, a total of $6,084,700 in unspent consumer protection account funds was transferred to the General Fund during fiscal year 2010.
Also in 2010, the Attorney General's Office reported that its Consumer Protection Division logged 13,734 instances of consumer assistance.
Of those consumer contacts, 1,312 were consumer complaints. The remaining 12,422 contacts consisted of receiving information from consumers, responding to consumers' requests for information and forms, and answering consumer inquiries about particular businesses, Wasden's office said.
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by e-mail at email@example.com.