HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced today he is creating a Consumer Financial Protection Unit to better protect Pennsylvania consumers from financial scams, and appointing an experienced consumer protection attorney to lead the initiative.
Attorney General Shapiro announced the appointment of Nicholas Smyth, who helped create the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), as Assistant Director of the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection with a dedicated focus on financial initiatives. The effort will focus on lenders that prey on seniors, families with students, and military service members, including for-profit colleges and mortgage and student loan servicers.
“Protecting the public from financial scams is a key priority of mine, and Nick Smyth will help us expand our capacity to bring complex cases against financial companies that try to rip off Pennsylvanians,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “If you think you’ve been scammed, let my Office know at 1-800-441-2555 or email@example.com. Our Consumer Protection team is here to fight on behalf of Pennsylvanians and make sure they get what they paid for and get their money back if they don’t.”
The focus of consumer financial protection shows Attorney General Shapiro’s commitment to protect Pennsylvanians from scams. In recent weeks, Attorney General Shapiro filed a lawsuit with other Attorneys General against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, after DeVos announced plans to roll back a critical student lending rule, and he also took action with colleague Attorneys General, urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow telephone companies to block illegal robocalls.
Smyth brings expertise in auto finance, student lending, debt collection and issues impacting military families. At the CFPB, Smyth led the investigation of the subprime auto lender Drivetime, which resulted in an $8 million settlement in 2014. He worked on CFPB v. ITT Educational Services, Inc., the CFPB’s first enforcement action against a for-profit college. Smyth also worked on an investigation of U.S. Bank’s MILES Program, a subprime auto finance program for military service members, which led to $6.5 million in consent orders.
Before joining the CFPB as its fourth employee, Smyth was part of a team at the U.S. Treasury Department that drafted and revised the CFPB’s enabling act, the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 (Title X of the Dodd-Frank Act).
“I am honored to join the Attorney General’s terrific consumer protection team,” Smyth said. “The Consumer Protection Bureau saves Pennsylvania families millions of dollars each year, and I am excited to contribute to this great work.”
In 2016, the Office of Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Bureau handled 19,727 consumer complaints and returned a total of $8,570,395.15 in restitution to consumers.
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