For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Bob Cooper
(208) 334-4112

Date: March 19, 2012

Wasden Recovers a Record $8 Million for Idahoans

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(Boise) – Attorney General Lawrence Wasden today released his annual Consumer Protection report for 2011.  Noting that 2011 marked the 40th anniversary of the Idaho Consumer Protection Act, Wasden said his office recovered a record $8 million in consumer restitution last year. In addition, the Consumer Protection Division recovered $2.5 million in penalties, fees and costs; received more than $24 million from the tobacco settlement, and returned $1.5 million in unspent consumer protection money to the general fund.

“Our most significant work in 2011 was in two areas: mortgage foreclosure and pharmaceutical pricing,” Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said.

Wasden said mortgage-related complaints decreased more than 120% in 2011.  The Attorney General received only 116 mortgage complaints in 2011, down from 261 in the previous year.  Still, the mortgage category remained at number one on the Attorney General’s Top Ten Consumer Complaint List in a tie with motor vehicles.

“This may be due to improvements in the federal Making Home Affordable Program, greater public awareness of mortgage modification options, a decrease in foreclosure filings during 2011, and the proactive steps that we have taken in the Attorney General’s Office,” Wasden said.

With the national foreclosure crisis hitting Idaho especially hard, Wasden’s office conducted an in-depth study of mortgage and foreclosure issues and issued a comprehensive report in early 2011. That report led Wasden and the Idaho Banking Association to propose House Bill 331.  Enacted last year, this new law requires lenders to notify borrowers in writing of their opportunity to request a mortgage loan modification review and to notify borrowers in writing of postponed trustee’s sales.  The law also prohibits for-profit mortgage modification companies from operating in Idaho unless licensed by the Idaho Department of Finance or exempt from such licensing.  In 2010, complaints against mortgage modification companies ranked number six in the Top 10 List of Complaints. This year the category did not generate enough complaints to make it onto the list.

“We continue to remain focused on helping Idaho through the difficult housing situation,” Wasden said.  “Just last week, we filed the settlement with the five largest mortgage servicers for court approval.  This settlement will provide nearly $100 million in direct benefits to Idaho borrowers.”

In the pharmaceutical pricing area, the Attorney General’s Office recovered more than $8.5 million in settlements with 11 drug manufacturers last year.  These cases involved the manufacturers reporting inflated “average wholesale prices” for prescription drugs.  In some instances, the reported prices were exaggerated up to 2000% over the actual average wholesale price.  As a result, Idaho Medicaid overpaid millions in taxpayer dollars for prescription drugs for low-income Idahoans.  Since 2007, Wasden’s office has recovered more than $15.7 million for Idaho taxpayers.  Three cases, naming 9 other drug manufacturers, are still pending.

Here is the Attorney General’s Top Ten Complaint list for 2011.

  Category 2011
Complaints
2010
Complaints

1

Loans & Mortgages
Motor Vehicles

116

261

3

Work-At-Home Programs

71

27

4

Cable/Satellite Services

70

83

5

Directory & Ad Space

48

27

6

Collections

40

39

7

Landlord/Tenant Issues

37

33

8

Internet Sales

34

43

9

Magazine Subscriptions
Membership Plans & Clubs

31

30

 

All Other Complaints

435

705

 

Total Complaints

1,028

1,312

 

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