by Andrew Crisp
Attorney General Lawrence Wasden today released his Annual Report on Consumer Protection, Competition and Tobacco Enforcement for 2011. Wasden and members of his office's Consumer Protection Division boasted a record $8 million in recoveries through their efforts-many of the funds coming in the form of a settlement with 11 drug manufacturers for reporting inflated prices, exaggerated up to 2,000 percent in some cases.
"This year marks the 40th anniversary of the state's Consumer Protection Act," said Wasden. "We've recovered more than was appropriated for 20 years, and we've returned unspent consumer protection money back to the general fund."
A total of $1.5 million in unspent monies were returned to the general fund. In addition, the AG's office received more than $24 million in tobacco settlement funds.
"When we last issued our report, we went through every single complaint we'd received over the year," said Brett DeLange, chief of the Consumer Protection Division.
Wasden and DeLange also announced that complaints regarding loans and mortgages were down from 261 in 2010 to 116 in 2011. However, mortgages and loans and motor vehicles remained tied for first on the AG's Top 10 Consumer Complaint List, followed by work-at-home programs and cable and satellite service.
The result of some of those complaints was House Bill 331, which requires banks to notify borrowers in writing of their right to negotiate the terms of their mortgages.
"It standardized and insured that everyone knows of their right and opportunity for mortgage modification, so they can make an informed choice," said DeLange.
Wasden also mentioned a forthcoming settlement, the result of a multi-state investigation into the 2008 financial crisis, which will result in a $100 million settlement for Idaho.