Local News

Cooper supports U.S. agency to oversee financial consumer services

Posted October 14, 2009 12:24 p.m. EDT
Updated October 14, 2009 5:35 p.m. EDT

— North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper on Wednesday backed a new federal agency that would serve as a clearinghouse for all issues consumers have with banks and credit card companies.

"Irresponsible and unfair loans have paved the way to the financial meltdown that we're working to recover from now," Cooper told reporters in downtown Raleigh. "Adding to the pain for consumers and our economy are rapidly changing terms on credit cards along with high overdraft fees."

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee, meanwhile, also met Wednesday to debate H.R. 3126, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency Act of 2009, which would create a consumer financial agency to corral several oversight agencies into a single, independent agency to set rules for the financial services industry

Cooper says it is long overdue.

The attorney general's office has received 662 complaints this year – triple the number from three years ago – about financial services, which include concerns about bank overdraft fees, late payment fees, rate increases, restrictions on access to credit lines, insufficient fund fees and monthly maintenance fees.

But there is not much the state can do, he said, because they are federal issues. A federal consumer protection financial agency could help.

"There is often little help provided to consumers," he said. "This is frustrating and confusing, and it's only getting worse."

Cooper also said he supports allowing the state's laws against predatory lending to be applied to all financial institutions rather than less stringent federal laws.