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

Date: January 31, 2006

Wasden Reports $600,000 Recovered for Idaho Consumers, $250,000 for State

(Boise) – The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit recovered more than $600,000 for Idaho consumers last year, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said today. Idahoan citizens received $1.25 for each $1.00 appropriated for consumer protection operations. 2005 marked the 15th consecutive year in which the amount of money recovered for consumers was greater than the general fund appropriation for consumer protection operations.

Wasden released his annual report on consumer protection operations today.

Wasden reported that he transferred more than $180,000 in surplus consumer protection money to the General Fund at the end of fiscal year 2005. The Attorney General’s Office has transferred a total of $3.7 million from the Consumer Protection Account to the General Fund since fiscal year 2000.

The Attorney General also reported that the consumer protection section of his office also recovered for the State of Idaho more than $250,000 in civil penalties, fees and costs. Wasden noted that these amounts are in addition to the $23 million Idaho received last year from the tobacco settlement.

The Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit logged 7,111 instances of consumer assistance in 2005. 1,875 contacts were consumer complaints. The remainder consisted of information from consumers, requests for information and forms, and consumer inquiries about particular businesses.

The Consumer Protection staff completed 22 enforcement actions last year including significant Consumer Protection Act settlements with DirecTV, Blockbuster Inc., TAP Pharmaceutical Products, Inc., and State Farm Insurance. Wasden’s office also resolved three lawsuits with drug manufacturers, involving anti-competitive acts used to keep generic versions of the manufacturers’ brand drugs off the market.

“2005 was also a year of significant consumer education and outreach activity, possibly, our most significant efforts yet,” Attorney General Wasden said. “We made direct contact with 5,000 Idaho residents at risk of identity theft resulting from computer security breaches at large data-brokering companies; created and distributed ProtecTeens to help parents understand and address the dangers of sexual predators on the Internet; and published a new manual to help Idahoans understand and protect their rights with regard to matters of credit and debt.”

The report reflects that the total number of complaints filed with the Attorney General’s Office was down this year, but notes that the difference is due to a change in the way the office counts unsolicited fax ads received by consumers and forwarded to the attorney general.

View the complete Consumer Protection Annual report for 2005

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