By TOM CRAWFORD
Military members stationed in Georgia – both new recruits and long-serving veterans – will get information and assistance in dealing with consumer finance problems from a new state initiative.
Georgia Watch, the consumer advocacy organization, will work with Attorney General Sam Olens and John Sours, head of the law department’s consumer protection unit, to produce a consumer’s guide for people in the armed forces.
The guide, which will be available in both print and online versions, is intended to help military personnel deal with pay day lenders, title pawn shops, and other finance companies that typically operate in the vicinity of military installations.
Service members often find themselves in financial distress because of predatory lending practices, said Liz Coyle, executive director of Georgia Watch.
“It has become abundantly apparent that service members in Georgia are particularly vulnerable to payday lending, title pawn, and other harmful consumer credit products,” she said.
Coyle said Georgia Watch has received a $10,000 grant from the Sears Consumer Protection and Education Fund to help pay the production costs of the print version of the consumer guide.
Georgia Watch will conduct focus groups of military families as information is compiled for the consumer guide. Olens and Sours, along with their staffs, will review the guide for legal accuracy.
“They deserve our protection, they deserve our assistance,” Olens said. “I look forward to making this guide available so families can make educated choices and avoid unscrupulous services and products.”
Holly Petraeus, director of service member affairs for the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, participated in the Tuesday news conference announcing the project.
“Although I work for the federal government, I am well aware of the importance of state protections for our military families,” said Petraeus, who said she moved 24 times in 37 years as the spouse of retired Army general David Petraeus.
“They need to know where they can turn for help if they are targeted by such sources,” Petraeus said.
SOURCE: Tom Crawford’s Georgia Report