Dept. of Justice: AG Kaul calls on federal government to protect consumers

MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Josh Kaul took action last week on the federal level to protect Wisconsin consumers.

Attorney General Kaul commented, “The Wisconsin Department of Justice takes seriously its role in protecting consumers and taxpayers. Last week, Wisconsin signed on to a letter in support of rules that protect against identity theft, a letter opposing changes that would undermine protections for purchasers of financial products, and an amicus brief regarding the statute of limitations that applies in certain False Claims Act cases.”

Identity Theft Rules Letter to FTC

Attorney General Kaul and 30 other state attorneys general sent a letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) urging the agency to maintain and update its “Identity Theft Rules” to reflect technological advances and changing methods of identity thieves. The FTC had sought comment on its Identity Theft Rules, first adopted in 2007.

The current rules require financial institutions and other businesses that grant credit or issue debit or credit cards to take affirmative steps to detect, prevent and mitigate identify theft. The letter suggests adding a requirement that credit card holders be notified by email or cell phone at both the old and new number or address if an email address or cell phone number in the holder’s account is changed.

A copy of the states’ letter can be read here.

Financial Consumer Products Letter to CFPB

Attorney General Kaul also joined 22 state attorneys general in asking the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to rescind its recently-proposed policies that would erode existing protections for consumers purchasing financial products.

The CFPB proposed in December 2018 greatly expanding the agency’s ability to issue no-action letters. No-action letters are informal guidance stating that CFPB enforcement action will not be brought based on facts described in an application to the agency. Under its proposal, the CFPB would be allowed to issue no-action letters for a much larger class of consumer financial products without receiving information fully describing the risks to consumers – and, once issued, no-action letters could bind the CFPB indefinitely. The state AGs’ letter cautions against making these changes and notes that such significant regulatory changes should only be pursued through the federal rulemaking process.

A copy of the states’ letter can be read here.

False Claims Act Amicus Brief

In addition, Attorney General Kaul joined a friend-of-the-court brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, along with 19 other state attorneys general, in a case regarding the federal False Claims Act’s statute of limitations period, Cochise Consultancy, Inc. v. United States ex rel. Hunt, No. 18-315 (U.S.).

The False Claims Act (FCA) prohibits the knowing submission of false claims for payment to the federal government, and it is often invoked in cases involving Medicaid fraud. The state AGs’ amicus brief argues against adopting a new, narrower statute of limitations standard, which would force the government to intervene in certain FCA suits. Whether or not Wisconsin is a party to Medicaid fraud suits brought under FCA, it usually receives a portion of any settlement funds received by the federal government as a result of these actions.

Read the brief here.

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