Attorney General Holder Opens Consumer Protection Summit

March 14, 2012 — One month after U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the creation of a Consumer Protection Working Group dedicated to prosecuting and preventing fraud, the nation’s chief lawyer appeared at Georgetown Law to raise awareness of this problem and to identify solutions.

“For me, and for today’s Department of Justice, protecting American consumers is a top priority,” Holder told members of the working group as he opened the Consumer Protection Summit on March 9. “We cannot simply prosecute our way out of this problem … we need your talents, we need your determination. And that’s precisely what this day is all about.”

Representatives of the Department of Justice, consumer groups and more than 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies and offices attended the Summit. It was a fitting wrap-up for National Consumer Protection Week — and a banner day for the Law Center, which also hosted Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. and former Solicitor General Paul Clement as part of its Corporate Counsel Institute.

Holder cited some of the many successes over the past year — including a 95 percent conviction rate by the Justice Department’s Consumer Protection branch, more than $900 million recovered in fines and more than 125 years of jail time for perpetrators. There has been groundbreaking work to combat health care fraud. And the task force has been working to seek justice for those affected by the financial crisis.

“I think we have made great strides in holding individuals and institutions accountable for the reckless, inappropriate and oftentimes unlawful conduct that helped contribute to the … crisis,” Holder said.

The working group’s five co-chairs include Professor David Vladeck, now serving as director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Vladeck, who also served on a panel on elder fraud, discussed the FTC’s enforcement cases regarding loan and debt settlement scams, mortgage servicing and other types of fraud.

“We finally have the resources to play offense,” he said, “not just defense.”

-- Ann W. Parks

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