Housed in the Attorney General’s Office, the Division of Consumer Affairs (DCA) enforces the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act—one of the broadest consumer protection laws in the country. DCA also houses approximately fifty professional licensure boards that regulate and serve professionals across New Jersey—from accountants to veterinarians, and physicians to plumbers. Over the past several years, as the federal government has worked to dismantle the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and other regulatory bodies, the Attorney General’s Office has moved quickly to fill the void, creating within DCA a “state-level CFPB” that ensures the rights of all New Jersey consumers.
- Protecting consumers from fraud when they make purchases large and small. The Division of Consumer Affairs fights consumer fraud even for the smallest purchase. But when you make major financial decisions, like buying a car or remodeling your home, you can count on the Division of Consumer Affairs to help protect you from fraud and help get you relief if you’re scammed. Each year, the Division collects millions of dollars in penalties and restitution from companies that don’t deliver on their promises to consumers.
- Protecting students when they pursue higher education. Student loan debt now represents the second largest category of debt for Americans, after only mortgage debt. And because New Jersey is a highly educated State, New Jersey residents carry more student loan debt than the residents of most other States. DCA is standing up for New Jersey student loan borrowers by combatting predatory and other fraudulent practices by student loan services, for-profit schools, and others. In addition, New Jersey recently joined with Utah in leading a bipartisan group of Attorneys General in persuading the federal government to automatically forgive the student loans of totally and permanently disabled veterans.
- Protecting residents from harassing robo-caller scams and debt collectors. No one wants their family dinner interrupted by a robo-call or a debt collector. With its partners in the federal government and in the private sector, DCA is working to protect New Jersey residents from unlawful telemarketing practices by robo-callers. Meanwhile, the Division is actively working to protect New Jersey residents from debt-collection practices that cross the line.
- Protecting families investing in their future. DCA houses the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, a national leader in investor protection. Dedicated to ensuring that New Jersey residents can invest with confidence, the Bureau of Securities is charged with protecting investors from investment fraud and regulating the securities industry in New Jersey. And by registering broker-dealers, investment advisers and their agents who conduct business in New Jersey, the Bureau identifies potential problems before they occur.
- Protecting the online privacy of all residents. In May 2018, Attorney General Grewal announced the creation of a new Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Section in the Division of Law’s Affirmative Civil Enforcement Practice Group. The Data Privacy and Cybersecurity Section is currently handling investigations of some of the world’s biggest tech companies. The Section’s recent accomplishments include playing a leadership role in the multi-state investigation of Equifax – the biggest data breach case ever, which resulted in a $600 million settlement – and successfully resolving several investigations into companies’ violations of their obligations to protect children’s privacy online.
- Holding financial institutions accountable. To help build a fairer New Jersey, DCA protects New Jersey residents from consumer fraud and abuses committed by the biggest financial institutions in the world as well as smaller companies offering novel and fringe financial products. Recent accomplishments include a $575 million settlement with Wells Fargo in December 2018, which resulted in nearly $17 million in payments to New Jersey, to resolve allegations the company engaged in a variety of sales, lending, and other improper business practices for more than a decade.
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