Consumer Protection Bills Going into Effect on January 1, 2010

Every year the Consumer Federation of California monitors, supports, and opposes dozens of consumer rights related bills. Each year, many of these bills are 'killed' in the legislature while many others reach the Governor's desk to either be signed into law or vetoed. Generally bills become the law on January 1st of the year following their signature, but implementation is occasionally delayed as a compromise to move a bill through the legislative process. Some of the most important consumer protection laws ' which CFC actively supported - going into effect on January 1, 2010, include: AB 260 (Lieu) will help rein in mortgage brokers by restricting subprime option adjustable rate mortgages, prohibiting steering of borrowers into higher-cost loan products than they qualify for, and explicitly creating a fiduciary duty on the part of brokers that calls for them to put their borrowers' economic interests above their own. AB 1094 (Conway) will require businesses to dispose of documents containing personal identifying information in a manner to protect the privacy of individuals. All too often businesses throw out documents without shredding or otherwise protecting the privacy of customers. SB 95 (Corbett) will make it more difficult for auto dealers with shaky finances to sell cars by boosting the bond amount they'd have to pay to operate, and requiring them to pay off liens on used cars before reselling them. Often dealers facing bankruptcy fail to pay the balance back to the lender on traded-in vehicles in a timely fashion - resulting in a default on a loan on a car the consumer no longer owns and the subsequent negative damage that causes to their credit scores. AB 63 (Mendoza) requires retailers to keep extended warranties on file for consumers. This helps consumers who later return to the store to have repairs made pursuant to a purchased warranty.  

'These are a few bright spots in a pretty dismal year for consumers. The most far reaching, pro-consumer legislation failed to even pass the legislature,' said Richard Holober, Executive Director of the Consumer Federation of California. 'Of the 14 bills we identified as most important that did reach the Governor's desk, he took the side of the consumer in only six instances - turning a deaf ear to the public interest on key food safety, automobile insurance and financial privacy proposals.'