Incumbent's view: Attorney general enforces rules for consumers

By Lori Swanson

Thank you for letting me represent you as attorney general. Teddy Roosevelt once said that nobody should be so powerful they're above the law or so powerless they're beneath its protection. That's the philosophy that guides me in this job.

It's difficult for consumers who have been taken advantage of - whether by scammers or sophisticated corporations - to get justice on their own. One of the most important jobs of the attorney general is to be an aggressive watchdog for regular people, or the "people's lawyer."

For example, a Chicago bill collector devised a way to make money for its Wall Street investors: Shake people down for credit card payments in hospital emergency rooms. Patients coming to the emergency room with heart pain, strokes or miscarriages were asked to cough up a credit card before seeing a doctor. We filed a lawsuit and kicked the company out of Minnesota.

We also dismantled a rigged credit card arbitration system. The company adjudicated 250,000 consumer credit card disputes yearly. Our investigation uncovered that the arbitration company - which was supposed to be fair and independent - ran a lopsided process with hidden financial ties to the collection industry. Our lawsuit put a stop to it.

We repeatedly have gone to bat to protect the financial security of our senior citizens - stopping living-trust mills, security-alarm purveyors, coin dealers, insurance companies and others that bilked the elderly. When I meet with senior citizens who have been ripped off by these types of shenanigans, I often think of my grandmothers, both of whom lived in and near Duluth. With the senior population expected to double by 2030, the Attorney General's Office must continue to make the protection of senior citizens a top priority - and I will.

One-third of Americans face problems with debt collectors, often involving health care bills. We have filed lawsuits against numerous "debt buyers" that buy old debt for pennies on the dollar and then cast a wide net to find people who may owe the money. We have caught some of these companies hounding the wrong person or fabricating evidence, and we have brought lawsuits to stop them. I will continue to make sure bill collectors engage in fair play.

I ask for your vote. With your help, I'll continue to fight for regular people when the deck is stacked against them by those who hold the cards.

Lori Swanson of Eagan, Minn., is the incumbent DFL Minnesota attorney general. She wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune at the request of the Opinion page.

Duluth News Tribune
Article Publish Date: 
October 15, 2014