Standing Up For All Minnesotans

“The true test of a character is to face hard conditions with the determination to make them better.”  
–  Helen Keller

Lori Swanson gets results which make a difference in the lives of people.  She did it for nearly 20 years in the Attorney General’s Office.  Take a look:

  • Attorney General Swanson lead a year-long investigation spanning all 50 states which proved that the country’s largest consumer arbitration company—National Arbitration Forum—operated a rigged arbitration scheme against the consumer. She filed a lawsuit that shuttered its consumer arbitration business.   In the process, the nation’s largest collection agency also closed.  The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, and National Public Radio all recognized Attorney General Swanson’s leadership in reforming the system. 

The National Consumer Law Center awarded her the Robert Drinan “Champion of Justice” award for this work, saying: “Attorney General Swanson has been a tireless champion of consumers in America, whether leading the charge against predatory mortgage lending, protecting seniors from marketing abuses, or defending our basic American right to have credit card disputes resolved impartially and not through a stacked deck.” 

A newspaper wrote: “Consumers using credit cards, cell phones and other forms of credit—meaning most Minnesotans—got a major victory” through her investigation.  The national publication Lawyers USA named Lori one of the top 10 attorneys in America in 2009, saying: “She toppled the dominant player in debt arbitration in the country and changed the face of consumer credit card arbitration overnight.” 

  • Swanson uncovered a system of abuses with “zombie debt” where hedge-fund owned companies pass around worthless and outdated credit paper and hire collection agents that pursue people for money they don’t owe.  She successfully overturned thousands of illicit court judgments and negative credit reports.

The Park Rapids Enterprise said: “Cheers to Attorney General Lori Swanson for making Minnesota the first state in the nation to tackle the pernicious problem of debt collectors hounding people for old, forgotten debt.” Swanson then persuaded the state legislature to require debt buyers to present evidence that they are pursuing the correct person for the correct amount.

  • After being sworn into office, Swanson sounded the alarm on the housing crisis, forming a work group of consumers, industry officials, and policymakers to craft reforms to prohibit mortgage lending abuses.  The Drum Major Institute of New York—a think tank inspired by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King—called the law that Swanson got enacted one of the ten most important public priorities in America. 

The New York Times said: “An excellent example of how to strengthen protections for borrowers is a 2007 Minnesota law that forbids some of the predatorymortgages that became common during the boom,” such as negative amortization loans, loan churning, prepayment penalties, and collusion between brokers and lenders.

  • Swanson intervened in a slew of cases in which power companies sought to raise rates or dupe people with dubious billing programs.  These cases helped to save ratepayers over $1.5 billion. One newspaper commended “the attorney general’s bulldog effort.” 
  • Swanson drafted numerous nation-leading laws that, when enacted, gave protections to consumers, including laws that restricted:

– Online payday lenders that charged exorbitant rates of interest.

– Mortgage foreclosure assistance companies that tricked homeowners into charging high fees but did nothing to help.

– Debt settlement companies that tricked cash-strapped borrowers to pay thousands of dollars for phony help with credit card bills.

– Companies that sent people “refund checks” which, when cashed, unwittingly signed people up for unwanted services. 

  • Swanson won concessions from cell phone, cable, and internet companies for charging more than their quoted prices and imposing undisclosed early termination penalties.
  • She sued to ban companies that crammed unauthorized charges onto telephone bills.
  • She shut down and recovered millions of dollars for borrowers from payday lenders that trap cash-strapped people in a spiral of debt with astronomical interest rates.
  • She stopped credit card companies from imposing unauthorized charges.
  • Swanson forced national mortgage companies to reform their lending practices and return over $40 million to homeowners who had their homes foreclosed, more returned to borrowers per capita than any other state.  She went after over  dozen mortgage foreclosure consultants that exploited vulnerable homeowners during the housing crisis.

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