Thursday, August 11 2022

Urges consumers to report violations of the law to the California Department of Justice oag.ca.gov/report

March 7, 2022 – OAKLAND – Today, in recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, California Attorney Rob Bonta highlighted ongoing efforts to protect California consumers and urged consumers to speak up misconduct or violations of state consumer protection laws to the California Department of Justice (DOJ). oag.ca.gov/report. Complaints filed by the public play a critical role in the Attorney General’s consumer protection efforts by providing the DOJ with important information about potential wrongdoing in determining whether to investigate a company or individual. The DOJ’s enforcement priorities include housing, debt collection, privacy, higher education, and consumer credit.

“Many in California are buried under a mountain of debt: whether it’s student loans, credit card debt, mortgage payments, or all of them.” said Attorney General Bonta. “In California we have strong consumer protection laws, but unfortunately there are still some who try to take advantage of them. Our team is working around the clock to protect consumers and hold bad actors accountable, but we need your help. If you have been taken advantage of by a predatory lender, have faced abusive debt collection practices, have been wrongfully evicted, or have information about any other violation of the law, please file a complaint with my office. The leads we get from the public help us identify where companies are trying to circumvent the law – and help us hold companies accountable.”

HOUSING: California faces a housing shortage and affordability crisis of epic proportions. In November, Attorney General Bonta announced this Creation of a Housing Strike Force within the California Department of Justice and started one housing portal on the DOJ website for resources and information for California homeowners and renters.

The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send housing-related complaints or tips to [email protected] The Housing Strike Force is particularly interested in leads on illegal evictions and rent increases, housing discrimination, and mortgage origination and settlement. For information on legal aid in your area, go to www.lawhelpca.org.

COLLECTION OF DEBTS: State laws protect Californians from abusive, unfair or deceptive collection practices. Attorney General Bonta is urging Californians who receive a warning from a collection agency to respond as quickly as possible — even if they don’t owe the debt. If you don’t, the collector can still try to collect the debt, report negative information to credit bureaus, and even sue you.

Collection agencies must not contact you repeatedly over a short period of time to annoy or harass you, to provide false or misleading information, or to contact you at unusual or inconvenient times or places. If you believe a collection agency is breaking the law, you can file a complaint at oag.ca.gov/report. For more information on debt collection, see oag.ca.gov/consumers/general/debt-collectors.

DATA PRIVACY: The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provides consumers with groundbreaking rights regarding their personal information, including:

  • Good to know – Consumers can request that a business tell them what specific personal information they have collected, shared, or sold about them and why it was collected, shared, or sold.
  • Right to Erasure — Consumers can request that a business delete personal information that the business has collected from the consumer, subject to some exceptions.
  • Right to Opt Out — If a company sells its personal data, consumers can demand that it stop doing so.
  • Rights for minors — A company must not sell the personal information of minors under the age of 16 without their permission and, in the case of children under 13, without parental consent.
  • right to non-discrimination — A business must not discriminate against consumers exercising their rights under the CCPA.

For more information on the CCPA, see oag.ca.gov/ccpa. To report a CCPA violation to the Attorney General, file a complaint at oag.ca.gov/report. You can also use the Consumer Privacy Tool Notify companies directly that do not have a clear and easy-to-find “Do Not Sell My Personal Information” link on their home page.

HIGHER EDUCATION: The United States is facing a $1.7 trillion student loan crisis, and the DOJ has pledged to hold bad actors accountable for cheating on California students. If you believe you have been the victim of a robbed loan, been deceived by a for-profit college, or otherwise taken advantage of, you may file a complaint with our office at oag.ca.gov/report.

California students may also benefit from recent developments resulting from the DOJ’s work. In January Attorney General Bonta announced an agreement with Navient, the student loan service provider, to resolve allegations of misconduct in the administration and collection of federal student loans. Californians do not have to take any action to receive the benefits required under the Settlement. For more information on processing, see www.NavientAGSettlement.com.

After years of efforts by attorneys general and others, the Biden administration recently announced a major overhaul the Broken Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness (TEPSLF) programs. Attorney General Bonta is encouraging Californians working in government or the nonprofit sector to take advantage of the Department of Education’s limited time Civil Service Loan Forgiveness with Limited Waiver to receive a credit for past payments on loans that would otherwise not be eligible under the PSLF program. Borrowers applying for loan forgiveness under the recent changes have until October 31, 2022 to take action.

CONSUMER CREDITS: Attorney General Bonta is committed to this Protecting vulnerable California borrowers from predatory lenders and others who would try to take advantage of them. To that end, the Attorney General is asking Californians to report predatory lenders oag.ca.gov/report.

Californians should also try to avoid certain loans whenever possible. To avoid falling into a debt trap, avoid payday loans whenever possible. Payday loans can turn a short-term need for emergency cash into a long-term, prohibitive cycle of high-interest loans that you can’t pay back. In California, payday lenders can borrow up to $300 and charge a maximum of $45 in fees. While this fee may not seem excessive, the average APR for payday loans is 372%. This is a much higher rate than most other loans or credit cards. You can contact them Financial Protection and Innovation Department to review a payday lender’s license, history of disciplinary action against a payday lender, or to file a complaint. You can also submit a complaint to our office.

Source: CA DOJ

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