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Consumer counseling for-profits push lawmakers for changes in Ohio
Trade group says it would keep bad apples out; opponents say it will weaken Ohio's consumer protections

Web Editor
M.L. Schultze
In The Region:

Ohio lawmakers may open the door during their lame-duck session for companies that charge up-front fees to help consumers settle their credit card debts. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

SCHULTZE: Lame-duck lobbying

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The American Fair Credit Council – a trade organization for companies that make money up front by offering to help consumers settle bad debts -- has been pushing House Bill 542. It would license so-called debt settlement operators and would forbid them from unfair or misleading practices.

But it also exempts them from Ohio’s Debt Adjusting Act and imposes no caps on how much the operators can charge people up front.

The Dayton Daily News is reporting that the industry says the bill would keep bad apples out of the state.  But opponents, including the Ohio Poverty Law Center and Policy Matters Ohio, say the bill would legalize a loophole from the state’s consumer protection laws.

The chairman of the House Financial Institutions Committee, Richard Adams of Troy, says he’ll hold  another hearing the bill Wednesday, and told the Daily News he’ll know then if the bill has the momentum it needs to pass the House and Senate before Dec. 31. Any bills not passed by then will have to be reintroduced.

Attorney General Mike DeWine’s web site includes  cautions about for-profit debt settlement programs, saying they can be risky and expensive and suggesting you try to reach creditors on your own.


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