Many of South Dakota's current laws that deal with consumer protection were put in place in 1971 and haven't been touched since. With the legislative priorities of Attorney General Marty Jackley, some of those laws are about to change.
"They've worked very well for us here in South Dakota, but the time has come to review the need because of technology for some updates. An example is, we need to also have theft of a debit card be against the law as well as a credit card," Jackley said.
Just last year, the Attorney General's office received 20,000 consumer complaints that led to the recovery of over $11 million. Retailers lost about $95 million a year ago as well. Jackley's plan for change started last June with a task force looking at what needed to be updated. Jessie Schmidt with the Better Business Bureau was part of that group.
"Really, we looked at initially starting at what are the top 10 consumer complaints that they hear in the Attorney General's office. It works great, because in the Better Business Bureau, much of what we hear piggy-backs on what they hear," Schmidt said.
Some of the changes will be rather minor, with some adjusted language to make it harder for scams to have an effect on consumers. Any theft over $1,000 will also be considered a felony instead of a misdemeanor as it stands now.
"When it's just at a misdemeanor level, sometimes we'll catch the bad guys doing this and they will keep doing it, so it has a deterrent value as well as really an ability to address the criminals when they come in and try to steal the money from South Dakotans," Jackley said.
Both Jackley and Schmidt feel these suggestions will pass, adjusting the laws appropriately to the changing times.
"If we can do a lot to keep the really good businesses and the good consumers lock in step with trusting each other, that's really our ultimate goal. It's the bad actors that we want out of the system," Schmidt said.
If the changes pass in this legislative session, the adjustments will officially go in the books in July.