startribune.com / by EDITORIAL BOARD , Star Tribune / January 8, 2013 – 8:30 PM
An old-fashioned sense of trust and a Depression-era-influenced desire for tangible investments has too often made older Minnesotans an easy mark for unscrupulous telemarketers selling gold and silver coins.
With many of the nation’s most notorious operations based in Minnesota, the state has an obligation to rein in a troubled industry that has let too many ex-cons into its ranks and has left too many senior citizens and other investors waiting for expensive coins that were paid for but never delivered — or paying thousands of dollars for “collectible coins” or counterfeits worth a fraction of their inflated price tags.
Minnesota legislators may have a crowded docket this session, but passing legislation that offers up overdue consumer protections should be high on the list. With a few tweaks, a practical bill announced last week by state Attorney General Lori Swanson and Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman could well become a model law for other states. The bill’s legislative champions are Assistant Senate Majority Leader Katie Sieben, DFL-Newport, and Rep. Debra Hilstrom, DFL-Brooklyn Center.
“The tragedy is that when senior citizens are targeted for fraud, they can’t go back to work and earn back the money,” Swanson said. “It’s horrible. When the money’s gone, the money’s gone.”