Consumer Protection

The 2008 financial crisis underscored the importance of a transparent financial market and stringent consumer protection laws that are properly enforced. In the midst of the Great Recession, Senator Van Hollen fought tooth and nail to protect Marylanders from the predatory practices of certain big banks, was part of the team that passed the Wall Street reform law, and has continued to be a champion for consumer rights to this day.

That mission has taken on added urgency throughout the coronavirus pandemic, which exposed our fellow citizens to economic hardship and new financial traps. That’s why Senator Van Hollen stepped up to ensure that provisions designed to defend against COVID-19-related frauds were included in the December 2020 coronavirus relief bill. He also successfully urged the Administration to take important actions to protect Americans’ financial security, including through a pause on student loan payments and a federal eviction moratorium. Those efforts have gone hand-in-hand with Senator Van Hollen’s push to pass broad student debt forgiveness, like enacting fixes to the public service loan forgiveness program, and securing vital pandemic rental and mortgage assistance in the American Rescue Plan. Additionally, Senator Van Hollen supported key resources in Congress’ COVID-19 relief measures for the Consumer Product Safety Fund to protect consumers from potentially dangerous products related to the pandemic and from scammers trying to take advantage of Marylanders during this crisis. 

As a member of the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, Senator Van Hollen has helped hold special interests and the financial industry accountable by working to strengthen the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For years, he has led the charge to shut down major corporate loopholes used by executives to evade stock trading regulations at the expense of everyday investors, and the Securities and Exchange Commission is now proposing to close those loopholes. Senator Van Hollen is also continuing the call for the passage of a financial transaction tax to rein in out-of-control Wall Street gambling.

Marylanders should also be insulated from the shams and swindles of predatory lenders that jack up interest rates beyond reasonable levels and trap working families in endless cycles of debt. When the Trump Administration recklessly opened loopholes that enabled predatory lenders to charge loan-shark rates under deceptive terms, Senator Van Hollen successfully shepherded legislation through Congress that reversed that damage. He is following that victory by standing up to abusive payday lenders and fighting to establish a 36% interest rate cap, nationwide – which is modeled after the current usury cap that already exists in Maryland. 

In addition, Senator Van Hollen is laser-focused on tackling daily scams and pressures that affect everyday Marylanders. To help Marylanders facing consumer issues, answer constituent questions, and provide more information on ongoing scams, Senator Van Hollen has co-hosted multiple Consumer Protection forums around the state with Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh. He is now working in our nation’s capital to channel the wisdom of those forum conversations into legislative change. He has helped pass a bill to crack down on illegal robocalls, he is working to prevent medical providers from going after patients’ income in order to recoup debt, and he has introduced new legislation that would protect consumers from online free trial scams. In addition, Senator Van Hollen has partnered with a group of bipartisan colleagues to introduce a bill that will help better protect seniors from fraud. According to a report from the Senate Special Committee on Aging released last Congress, older Americans lose approximately $3 billion each year to financial scams and abuse. Senator Van Hollen’s legislation, the Empowering States to Protect Seniors from Bad Actors Act, will help protect our seniors by combatting fraudulent scams aimed at older Americans

Senator Van Hollen will keep fighting to protect Maryland consumers and ensure they have the tools to recognize and combat fraud and scams.