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Good News and Bad News about Consumer Protection Act

March 7, 2008

Des Moines, IA – At the last minute, the Iowa State Legislature has passed the Consumer Protection Act out of committee. That's the good news. The bad news, according to Anthony Carroll with AARP Iowa, is that it's nearly a blank sheet of paper.

Iowa is the only state in the country where victims of consumer fraud have little legal recourse to go to court to try to recoup their losses.

To beat the deadline, lawmakers passed a bill out of committee, but Carroll says it contains nothing of value - so far. He says now it will be up to the full House to make sure Iowa doesn't remain the only state that leaves citizens open to fraud.

"We can't let another year pass; it's been almost 10 years that Iowa been the only state that does not have a law to protect Iowans against fraud."

Carroll says without this law, Iowans are susceptible to being bilked out of money with no way to go to court to get it back.

"All Iowans -- particularly older Iowans -- are vulnerable to this, whether it be a home improvement contractor or someone who through an insurance policy promises something that they don't deliver."

Carroll says opponents of tougher fraud legislation have claimed it would create a hardship on businesses, but he says 49 other states have similar laws that haven't drawn complaints from legitimate businesses.

Currently, Iowans don't have the right to file a private lawsuit. Instead, they must initiate a common-law action, which not only requires a high standard of proof, but also doesn't allow for recovery of attorney fees.


Dick Layman/Craig Eicher, Public News Service - IA