Congratulations to Sarah Bloom Raskin on her appointment to the board of the Federal Reserve ("Md. regulator joins Federal Reserve board," Oct. 1). This is good news for everyone because Ms. Raskin understands that protecting businesses and consumers is not mutually exclusive.
As a consumer protection attorney it upsets me when people tell me that consumer protection is detrimental for business. The opposite is true! Dishonest and irresponsible business practices not only harm individuals but businesses and the nation as a whole. We all saw that with the mortgage meltdown, but it is prevalent in other areas.
For example, I have seen consumers who would only qualify for a car loan at 15 percent interest. The honest car dealer tells the consumer that. He goes next door to the dishonest car dealer, who offers him a contract with a 10 percent rate but subtly makes him sign a separate document saying if this financing falls through he has to bring the car back. If he's savvy enough to ask about this, the dealer will tell him not to worry, he has a contract at 10 percent and that other document is just a formality. Two weeks later the dishonest dealer calls the consumer and tells him financing didn't go through and he has to pay 16 percent to keep the car. The dishonest dealer gets the sale on his own terms and the honest dealer can't compete.
I have been practicing consumer law for eight years, and there are businesses whose names have never crossed my desk. I am on a first name basis with the lawyers from others.
Honest and responsible businesses will not suffer but will thrive when we demand that everyone be responsible and play fair. We all deserve that. I wish Ms. Raskin the best.
Jane Santoni, Towson