Governor Wolf Announces Consumer Financial Protection Initiative

November 12, 2015

Harrisburg, PA – Today, at the opening of the Ann B. Barshinger Financial Empowerment Center, Governor Wolf announced a consumer financial protection initiative.

“Today, I am announcing the administration’s Consumer Financial Protection Initiative in order to educate the public about financial protection and best practices in a concise, efficient way,” said Governor Wolf.

Secretary Robin Wiessmann began consolidating roles and breaking down institutional silos within the Department of Banking and Securities, looked at new ways to get things done, and developed new and more effective ways to meet consumer needs for financial education.

During this process, Brian LaForme who is the director of the Department of Banking and Securities outreach program, took office and staff from within the department, consolidated and integrated their work into a new “Financial Services for Consumers and Business” division.

The initiative, which is part of Governor Wolf’s “Government that Works” tour, has four goals.

The first goal is to help protect consumers from illegal, “easy money” types of lending from out-of-state companies. These predatory loans, which are heavily advertised on the Internet, might seem appealing during the cash crunch of the holidays, but they can create huge financial hangovers for the borrower in the new year.

Working cooperatively with PennDOT, the Department of Banking and Securities will shortly begin sharing information from trusted sources with consumers who are at risk of losing their cars to companies offering “easy money” loans using car titles as collateral.

Secondly, this initiative will help health care and legal professionals identify signs of elder financial abuse and prevent this crime. As our commonwealth population grows older, more of our senior citizens are at risk of having their hard-earned retirement savings stolen.

Working with the Investor Protection Trust and the Department of Aging, the Department of Banking and Securities will be stepping up efforts to reach the professional communities our seniors most depend upon with information and resources to help them better cope with this threat to our community of senior citizens.

The third goal is working to find new ways to help working adults save for their retirements. Not enough people in this country currently facing retirement have saved enough money to have the kind of retirement they want.

The Department of Banking and Securities is working on creating awareness of existing tools that working adults can use to create the kind of nest eggs they need. The department is also looking for and studying new approaches for consumers to ensure their financial futures in retirement.

Finally, this initiative works to establish a state government interagency financial education exchange for consumers. More than a dozen Pennsylvania state agencies offer some form of financial education and consumer outreach. Until now, these agencies have not shared information with each other about what services they offer consumers or even what information they share with consumers.

This exchange will help ensure that state agencies work in a coordinated fashion. For instance, if you call the Banking Department on an issue actually related to, say, insurance or unemployment compensation or taxes, you will actually get referred to the right agency that can answer your question. This exchange will help ensure that state agencies will not distribute potentially conflicting information with consumers.

This exchange is working to create a portal of information from trusted sources — a “one-stop shop” for help on financial services and products.

Earlier this year on the “Government that Works” tour, Governor Wolf gave remarks at the opening of Hulton Bridgesigned an executive order designed to correct the course of the Commonwealth with respect to state contracting opportunities for small diverse businesses, announced a plan to enhance the health insurance coverage available to all Pennsylvania children enrolled in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and instituted online voter registration.

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