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GAO: Military Disciplinary Board might have prevented payday loan ripoff

June 5, 2006 - Fort Drum, New York

A Fort Drum board whose responsibilities include heading off predatory lending practices didn't even meet for four years.

That's according to a report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

In 2004 the New York Attorney General filed suit against NY Catalog, a business just outside Fort Drum.

The lawsuit charged that the business was engaging in "payday loans," charging outrageous interest rates, with military families the primary victims.

The GAO's Valerie Melvin testified before the House Financial Services recently about financial issues facing U.S. Service members.

She said the Department of Defense established Armed Forces Disciplinary Control Boards which can make recommendations to place businesses off-limits to service members to protect families from unfair business practices.

"Our report did in fact talk about Fort Drum as being one of several bases where we had seen, inactivity I guess is the word," Ms. Melvin told NewsWatch50.

"And at Fort Drum in particular we had noted that the board had not met in about four years at the time of our review."

Ms. Melvin said that the Department of Defense, in response to the GAO report, planned to implement regulations requiring the boards to meet more often.

Officials at Fort Drum's Public Affairs Office did not get back to NewsWatch50 about whether the board at Fort Drum had begun meeting again since the report was issued.

News Source

NewsWatch50 (WWTI), Staff Writer

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