Earlier this month Executive Director Sally Greenberg and I, along with representatives from several national consumer groups, met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and the President’s Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. The meetings, part of the task force’s Consumer Protection Summit, were an opportunity for NCL to discuss emerging fraud trends and recommend solutions to the country’s highest law enforcement officer.
Greenberg called on Attorney General Holder and the members of the task force to do more to protect consumers from fraud on a number of fronts.
First, she urged the task force to bring Internet scammers to justice, particularly those fraudsters operating overseas. NCL’s Fraud Center staff routinely hears from fraud victims who are as frustrated by international fraudsters’ seeming immunity from justice as they are by the crime itself. Greenberg called on the task force to publicize high-profile extraditions and prosecutions of overseas scam artists to serve as a warning to those who would victimize American consumers.
Second, Greenberg called for revisiting consumer education initiatives to measure the effectiveness of different strategies for getting consumers to change their behavior. Too often, she said, there appears to be a diminishing return on the consumer education dollar and rarely do consumer protection agencies have good visibility into what works and what doesn’t. She urged the task force to consider making more government-owned complaint data available to the general public so that emerging fraud trends can be identified earlier.
Finally, she highlighted the frustration that advocates feel at the seeming ubiquity of advertisements for dubious or outright fraudulent products and services on television and radio. She called on the task force to work with broadcasters and cable channels to ensure that they are doing their due diligence when vetting potential advertisers so as to keep fraudulent ads off the airwaves.
President Obama created the Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis. Its goal is to bring financial scammers to justice, get restitution for victims and address financial discrimination on Wall Street. More than two-dozen federal law enforcement agencies participate in the task force. The task force maintains a website at StopFraud.gov with news on recent law enforcement actions, tips on avoiding scams and information for victims of financial fraud.