St. Paul, Minn.— During the Minnesota Senate’s first major deadline week, Senator Kevin Dahle (DFL-Northfield) has pushed a set of proposals aimed at enhancing consumer protections and responding to scams targeting Minnesota seniors.
Previous lawmaking from 2009 established rules of the road for credit card, medical, and other consumer debt settlement. However, a gap currently exists that keeps the law from addressing tax debt scams. Sen. Dahle commented, “Uneven application of the law to different types of scams is unacceptable. We have a responsibility to ensure that consumers have full coverage under the law.”
Sen. Dahle’s bill closes the loophole that allows tax debt settlement providers to operate under different rules than other debt settlement providers. The bipartisan bill is also a priority of the Commerce Department, which sees it as a critical part of its consumer protection efforts. It finished its rapid path through the Senate’s committees this week with a unanimous vote from the Commerce Committee, and now awaits a vote from the full Senate.
Another bill of Senator Dahle’s proposes regulation for money transfers in Minnesota as a way to better respond to financial crimes. Minnesota’s senior citizens continue to be scammed through money transfers, with consumer protections efforts and statewide awareness constantly struggling to keep up with increasingly creative scammers. The bill requires money transmitters to have written and verbal warnings in place to warn consumers of potential schemes, and are directed to investigate fraud and maintain investigation reports. Victims of crime are also able to bring action against a money transmitter if certain criteria are met.
“Money transmitters have a responsibility to partner with consumers to combat fraudsters,” said Sen. Dahle.“Financial institutions are in a unique and powerful position to identify and stop scam artists. Their skilled employees and long relationships with their customers should be used to protect Minnesota’s seniors.”
The legislation makes money transmitters directly accountable to the consumer if they do not instate the fraud protections outlined in the bill. Assistant Attorney General Ben Velzen described the bill as a set of common-sense, anti-fraud measures to the Judiciary Committee on Thursday. The Committee passed the bill with bipartisan support, and it now also awaits a hearing by the entire Senate.