05/26/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Support troops and families with consumer protection agency

Some of the people who need protection from financial predators are the families of troops serving overseas.

The folks at Treasury are talking to troops and their families, and just reported what they found. Here's a bit of that:

Military Families Have Too Often Been Hit With Abusive Practices

  • Financial needs attract predatory lenders.  Military families have been a target of unscrupulous lenders because of their demographic characteristics.  Often, recently enlisted soldiers and sailors have their first steady paycheck and their first chance to be lured into easy credit offers.  But there are also many experienced military families struggling with daily expenses such as child care and medical bills in the face of deployments and frequent moves. 
  • Threatens military readiness.  Undersecretary Stanley's letter states that the "personal financial readiness of our troops and families equates to mission readiness."  He reports that 72 percent of financial counselors surveyed had counseled Service members on auto abuses in the past six months.

The Administration Believes Military Families Deserve a Consumer Agency that Will:

  • Write rules under existing federal consumer financial laws and be authorized to prohibit unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices by all bank and nonbank participants in the consumer financial services market.  Auto dealers act as lenders, originating 80 percent of car loans.   They make nearly half of their profits from finance and insurance.  They should have to follow the same rules as community banks and credit unions.
  • Review and enforce compliance with these rules.  The new consumer agency would review compliance on a risk basis, taking into account complaints and other risk indicators. 

Remember that the financial predators write a lot of checks in Washington, and we need to help the troops and their families.

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