by J. Michael Atherton
So, you think you’re smart enough to detect scammers? Think again. In 2020 alone phone scammers took Americans for $29.8 billion. And this is just phone scams. What of insurance scams, car purchase and repair scams, home improvement and construction scams, retail sales scams, landlord scams, credit card and debt scams, communication and professional services scams, and health products and services scams? One in three of your neighbors fell victim to phone scams.
Realize, these swindlers spend their every waking moment trying to bilk us out of our hard-earned money. Even if we are smart enough to admit that we just don’t know when we are being scammed, what can we do? Where to turn?
Thanks to Elizabeth Warren, a noted Democrat, we can now turn to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CPFB). They created this government bureau in 2007 to help us fight scammers. The CFPB protects “consumers from unfair, deceptive, abusive practices and takes action against companies that break the law.” If we use locks to protect us from intruders, then we should use the CFPB to protect us from scammers. Protection is protection.
The CFPB also produces vast amounts of educational material to help us learn how to fight the poisonous charm of scammers. The CFPB oversees banks, lending companies, as well as credit reporting agencies and debt collection agencies. Such institutions require close supervision because it is their job to know more about money than we do. Their knowledge gives them financial power. If left unsupervised such knowledge can destroy our financial life. Since the temptation to abuse this knowledge may overwhelm some people, we need the CFPB to make sure financial operators respect your financial health.
Of course the Republicans and their funders oppose the CPFB, but their complaint seems forced and ill-purposed. Is it governmental overreach if the CFPB returns $12 billion to people or should scammers keep whatever they can grab? But the Republicans have a long history of supporting financial institutions over the public. After all, Republicans under Trump made it legally harder for average citizens to sue financial institutions.
If you like to sleep well at night knowing a governmental bureau uses its considerable power to protect your financial life, then first thank Senator Warren and then Thank a Democrat.
About the author:
Mike retired from 30 years of teaching philosophy after 20 years of teaching a variety of subjects from elementary to graduate school. He served four years in the Peace Corps in Swaziland (now Eswatini), followed by marriage, first child, and PhD all at the University of Chicago. He and his wife Cynthia moved to Southwest Pennsylvania where she taught ecology and he taught philosophy while they raised two daughters. They moved to Dover in 2019 to be near their two grandsons in Maine. He has consistently found the Dems to be a group that publicly and privately follows their stated values: compassion, honesty, integrity, respect the dignity of all people, expanded freedom, responsible citizenship, promoting civil society, and protecting our environment.