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News From Georgia Watch

October 21, 2016
In This Issue
Consumer Champions
Upcoming Webinars
Predatory Lending Comments
Prepaid Card Protections
In the News
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On October 13th,  Georgia Watch presented its 2016 Consumer Champion Awards to advocates, regulators and legislators at a celebration at Turner Field. The award recipients were recognized for their work to protect and empower consumers in Georgia. See photos here.

"Georgia Watch is proud to recognize these consumer champions for standing up for the interests of Georgia consumers and protecting their legal rights," said Georgia Watch Executive Director Liz Coyle. "We owe them each a debt of gratitude for the energy they put forth every day to make Georgia a model for consumer protection." Read more about it here>
Upcoming Educational Webinars
Consumer Protections for Surprise Medical Bills & Network Adequacy  
On Wednesday, November 16 from 12:00pm to 1:00pm, Georgia Watch will host an educational webinar on these important topics for healthcare consumers. Presenters include Beth Stephens from Georgia Watch and Meredith Gonsahn, Health Policy Analyst at Georgians for a Healthy Future. Questions answered will include: 
  • What can cause a surprise medical bill?
  • Which healthcare consumers are impacted?
  • What efforts are underway across the nation and in our state to find solutions?
You can register for this free webinar here.

Scam and ID Theft Webinar
For the past few months, volunteers, trained by Georgia Watch staff have been conducting workshops with seniors, immigrants, refugees, adults, and teens on the dangers of identity theft and how to prevent it. In November, our new Manager of Education and Empowerment, Trey Cason, will conduct a webinar with these dedicated volunteers updating them on the most current scams and prevention methods. Please join Georgia Watch in thanking our wonderful Scam and ID Theft trainers!
Georgia Watch comments on CFPB proposed payday lending rules
Georgia Watch submitted  formal comments  on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) proposed rule on payday, vehicle title, and certain high cost installment loans.  We are encouraged that this proposal seeks to rein in these harmful practices by establishing an ability-to-repay standard for these loans.   However, we are calling on the CFPB to strengthen the final rule to ensure that Georgia's strong protections and usury caps for loans are not undermined.

Georgia Watch also submitted a letter on behalf of eight organizations and the Georgians whose financial security would be threatened if future CFPB rules unintentionally weakened our state's strong protections against payday lending. See the  full text of the letter  from Georgia Watch and 8 other Georgia organizations here Read the full press release here>
Last year, Georgia Watch kept you up-to-date on Senate Bill 88 which allowed employers the right to place employee earned wages or salary on a payroll card instead of the traditional payroll check. While Georgia Watch recommends that, if at all possible, employees opt to have their wages deposited directly into their bank accounts so that they may earn credit and avoid arbitrary fees, under certain circumstances, a prepaid card can be a viable alternative for the 10-12% of Georgians without bank accounts who wish to avoid expensive check-cashing fees.

In early 2015 CFPB invited comments on preliminary rules regulating prepaid account services. In March of that year, Georgia Watch formally submitted recommendations to the CFPB to strengthen the proposed protections. Read the full article here>

In the News