Monday, March 07, 2011
Lyn Peters, Director of Communications
PH (360) 902-8731 firstname.lastname@example.org
William Beatty, Director Division of Securities
PH (360) 902-8723 email@example.com
Deborah Bortner, Director, Division of Consumer Services
PH (360) 902-0511 firstname.lastname@example.org
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Washington DFI Joins State And National Organizations In Recognizing Consumer Protection Week March 6-12
"Operation Empty Promises" and enforcement cases highlight need for education and prevention
OLYMPIA – The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) joins state and national organizations in support of National Consumer Protection Week March 6-12, 2011 (www.ncpw.gov). DFI’s Consumer Protection Week Web site (www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/protection.htm) provides access to consumer education information, links to additional resources and details on how DFI can help consumers.
Leading up to Consumer Protection Week, Washington’s DFI joined the Federal Trade Commission in last week’s “Operation Empty Promises” (www.ftc.gov/opa/2011/03/emptypromises.shtm), a multi-agency initiative focused on identifying and taking action against fraudsters promising jobs and “be your own boss” opportunities to consumers.
Each year, DFI’s examination and enforcement teams fulfill the agency’s mission to “regulate financial services to protect and educate the public and promote economic vitality” as they investigate cases of consumer and financial fraud and take action against the offending organizations.
“DFI is committed to seeing that Washington’s consumers have access to safe and sound financial products — from savings accounts and investment opportunities to home mortgages,” DFI Director Scott Jarvis said. “It’s important for consumers to ask questions and verify the answers they get so they know they’re working with a licensed professional authorized to sell the product. Washington consumers can verify licenses, check to see if the agency has taken action against a company and even file a complaint to report fraudulent activity — either online at DFI’s Web site or by calling our toll-free number.”
DFI’s dedication to consumer protection is exemplified in numbers — the number of investigations completed by DFI’s examination and enforcement teams, the number of complaints received, the number of actions taken and the number of dollars exacted from companies on behalf of consumers.
DFI’s Division of Consumer Services, 2010:
- 271 New Investigations
- 1,879 Complaints Received
- 806 R&Cs & R&Rs (complaints that were closed with a Resolution & Closure or Resolution and Request for Action – and Respondent complied with the Request for Action)
- 415 Actions (includes Temporary Cease & Desist, Statement of Charges, Consent Orders, and Final Orders)
- Restitution: $160,605.93
- Restitution Escheated to State: $17,068.40
- Fines: $793,243.28
DFI’s Division of Securities also investigated several cases and took action in 2010:
- 129 administrative actions
- 1 civil action
- 4 criminal actions filed
- 93,583 victims
- Dollars lost: $2,003,420,300
- $2,050,238,000 returned to Washington investors in the auction rate securities cases
- An additional $3,701,287,850 nationwide in the Wells Fargo case
- Dollars of restitution ordered in criminal cases: $11,739,282.56
- Fines collected:$5,043,813.70
Consumer Beware! DFI’s Securities Division notes trends in consumer fraud
- Top financial fraud topics: Unregistered sales of securities, securities fraud, affinity fraud, fraud against seniors
- Top financial products involved in schemes: promissory notes, real estate investments, oil & gas investments
- Top problems involving registered firms: conversion by agents, suitability
Keep up to date on companies and products to watch out for by signing up for DFI’s consumer alerts at www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/alerts.htm.
Find out if DFI has taken action against a company online at www.dfi.wa.gov/consumers/enforcement.htm.
www.dfi.wa.gov ▪ 360.902-8700 ▪ 877.746-4334
The Washington State Department of Financial Institutions regulates a variety of financial service providers such as banks, credit unions, mortgage brokers, consumer loan companies, payday lenders and securities brokers and dealers. The department also works to improve financial education throughout Washington through its outreach programs and online clearinghouse www.dfi.wa.gov/financial-education. In addition to posting information about licensees and administrative actions, DFI uses the Web and social media to provide financial education information: www.twitter.com/FinEd4All, www.twitter.com/DFIConsumers, www.finlit.blogspot.com, www.youtube.com/user/WADFI, www.homeownership.wa.gov.
Other government agencies providing consumer protection:
- Washington State’s Consumer Protection Portal www.access.wa.gov/consumer/index.aspx
- Washington’s Department of Revenue, Labor and Industries and Employment Security joined forces to create www.suspectfraud.com, a website where consumers can “Check with the State Before It’s Too Late.” Links on www.suspectfraud.com allow consumers to check to see if a registered business is properly licensed, owes the state taxes, has had complaints filed against it, or is the subject of state enforcement actions and even report cases of suspected fraud.
- Washington’s Attorney General www.atg.wa.gov/SafeguardingConsumers/default.aspx
- The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (CFPB) www.consumerfinance.gov
- Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov/crimeschemes.aspx
- The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/index-consumer-protection.html
- Federal Trade Commission www.ftc.gov/bcp/
- Federal Reserve www.federalreserveconsumerhelp.gov
- www.lookstoogoodtobetrue.com (Developed and maintained by a joint federal law enforcement and industry task force. Funding for the site provided by the United States Postal Inspection Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.)
- Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force www.StopFraud.gov
- Security and Exchange Commission, (SEC) Public Alert: Unregistered Soliciting Entities (PAUSE) www.sec.gov/investor/oiepauselist.htm