Maryland beefs up consumer protection to cover federal rollback

WASHINGTON — Maryland is taking steps to implement the findings of a commission set up to protect consumers.

The legislature set up the Maryland Financial Consumer Protection Commission last year. The goal: provide safeguards for consumers should the federal government roll back regulations targeting the financial industry.

On Friday, lawmakers in Annapolis announced that they will draft laws to protect consumers based on the commission’s findings and recommendations.

Among the recommendations in the commission’s report:

  • Require credit-reporting agencies, such as Equifax, to notify consumers of data breaches.
  • Create a student loan ombudsman to protect student loan recipients.
  • Crack down on abusive practices under the Maryland Consumer Protections Act.
  • Adopt new financial consumer protection laws dealing with such issues as student loans, financial technology, virtual currencies (such as Bitcoin) and consumer data breaches.

Maryland state Sen. James Rosapepe said lawmakers intend to request more money to fund the consumer protection arm of the Maryland attorney general’s office. It would “put more cops on the Wall Street beat,” Rosapepe said.

He said part of what lawmakers hope to do is look at what he calls “new threats to economic stability.” Rosapepe includes instruments such as Bitcoin in that area.

“There are issues of what kind of a product Bitcoin is, so we’re saying the regulators need to take a close look at how current laws need to be enforced” and that those laws likely need to be updated.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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