Commentary

Editorial blasts Senate for aiding industry that preys on consumers

Be sure to check out this morning’s lead Capitol Broadcasting Company editorial on WRAL.com: “N.C. Senate-Stop playing games with lobbyists, act to protect consumers.” The editorial weighs in on a topic highlighted  in the June 30 Weekly Briefing — namely the North Carolina Senate leadership’s late legislative session decision to quash a bipartisan bill that would have reined in the predatory “debt settlement” industry.

The editorial offers a neat summary of how these businesses frequently prey upon vulnerable consumers (by luring them into high interest debt consolidation loans) and then features a discussion of how military personnel are often among the prime targets:

“Those in the military service have been traditional targets of these scammers. So, it is no surprise that Col. Nicholas E. Davis, Marine Camp Lejeune’s chief of staff, last week asked legislators to pass the bill banning settlement companies because they particularly prey on armed services personnel and their families.

Davis, in a letter to legislators, said these settlement companies ‘pursue vulnerable borrowers which can include service members and their dependents. Some of these abusive practices fail to reduce debt obligations and leave borrowers in worse conditions with loans in default, tax bills and creditor lawsuits and judgments.’ He noted that the armed services offer ‘excellent, free services … through service relief societies, military financial counselors and the minimal cost services provided by non-profit counsellors.'”

The bill had been sailing along without any dissenting votes until the waning hours of the session when it was mysteriously bottled up by the Senate leadership — a fact that seems likely to have had something to do with the fact that it was opposed by a deep-pocketed industry that hired a fleet of lobbyists.

Here’s the on-the-money conclusion to the editorial:

“So, Senate Leader Phil Berger – where do you stand?

With the dedicated and brave women and men of the Marines and other armed forces?·
With the hard-working classroom teachers, prison guards, health care workers and others essential state service providers?

Or with deep-pocketed special interests?

Stop playing hide-and-seek and bring the bill to the Senate floor. Pass House Bill 1067, ‘Modernize Debt Settlement Prohibition.'”

Let’s hope it gets Berger’s attention.

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