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Legislation to Protect Utah Consumers Signed Into Law

It’s no secret that Utah has led the nation in fraud, an accolade that few in the state are proud to claim.

It’s no secret that Utah has led the nation in fraud, an accolade that few in the state are proud to claim.

See Also: Be the One that Got Away From Identity Thieves 

State Senator Ben McAdams likes to put the scope of the problem in context by comparing the size of Utah’s ski industry to that of its fraud industry; despite having the “greatest snow on Earth,” tourists attracted by skiing add $600 million to the Utah economy, while fraud drains over $1 billion from it.

This led Sen. McAdams to sponsor bills this past legislative session to address this huge problem – Senate Bill 100 provides protection and incentives for people to report fraud early before the number of victims explodes and millions are lost to fraud. Its protection is twofold. It protects employees who report an employer who may be perpetrating a fraud on the public from retaliation from that employer. Further, any member of the public that provides information leading to a successful enforcement action is then eligible for a percentage of any penalty the Utah Division of Securities is able to impose. According to Keith Woodwell, the Division’s Director, it is often too late to recover any money from the fraud perpetrator once a fraud is discovered. The sooner a scam can be stopped, the less people are likely to be victimized, and it is more likely that at least some money can be returned to fraud victims.

The other bill, Senate Bill 101, also sponsored by Sen. McAdams, would enhance penalties against a person who takes advantage of an “affinity” he or she has with a victim by exploiting a position of trust through a shared religion, ethnicity, or other common characteristic. Sen. McAdams was appalled by the number of Utahns who are conned each year by a person they believe to be a trusted friend, neighbor, or confidant. He believes that the trusting nature of people in this state is among the best qualities that Utahns share, and therefore sponsored this legislation to help prevent this type of betrayal.

AARP Utah was the sole consumer organization that worked to help enact these bills and was proud to be at the bill signing in Governor Gary Herbert’s office at the end of April. Our members look to AARP to protect their financial interests and guard against fraud, and we believe these bills are strongly in keeping with this mission. We were honored to work with Sen. McAdams to help reduce the number of fraud victims in Utah and look forward to working with him and his colleagues in the legislature for 2012.

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