Wednesday, January 12, 2011

MCRC releases our legislative agenda-help us pass strong protections for consumers this session

Legislative Agenda 2011

MCRC advances and protects the interests of Maryland consumers through education and advocacy, and works to ensure fairness and safety in the marketplace. MCRC will report on these bills and others that emerge during session to our Members.

Protecting Finances and Employment

Many debt settlement firms use misleading claims and practices to entice financially struggling families into debt settlement contracts. These families are then charged exorbitantly high fees that leave them in even worse financial straits. Debt and loan products should be offered at affordable rates and include strong consumer protections. Consumers should have access to appropriate credit products and access to credit reports and scores should be limited..

MCRC supports legislation to:

•Cap rates for debt settlement firms at 15%

  • Require that debt settlement providers operating in Maryland be licensed by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation and report upon their performance annually.
  • Enable Maryland drivers to purchase Maryland Auto Insurance Fund (MAIF) insurance under an affordable installment plan
  • Ensure credit that the use of credit reports and scores be limited to evaluating credit worthiness.

Saving Homes and Promoting Smart Energy and Utilities

Maryland should work to slow the rate of foreclosures and protect home-owners from fraudulent or incompetent home-improvement contractors. In addition, consumers should be protected from uncontrolled utility costs, confusing or misleading contracts, and unfair terminations.

MCRC supports legislation to:

  • Require that the State publish data on foreclosure rates for each mortgage provider; current servicer; and broker within Maryland in a publicly available report.
  • Strengthen consumer protections for home-owners working with home-improvement contractors and require surety bonds for high-end contractors.
  • Require utilities to offer payment plans to persons who have fallen on hard times.

Providing Adequate Enforcement Remedies

There should be higher fines and penalties for individuals or firms that violate consumers’ rights in order to discourage disreputable and misleading behavior.

MCRC supports legislation to:

  • Promote transparency in mandatory arbitration-allowing consumers to see the record of arbitrator’s decisions prior to choosing an arbitrator or arbitration firm.

For more information, contact: Marceline White, Executive Director at marcelineawhite@gmail. com or 410-624-8980


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