Reining in Wall Street

STANDING UP FOR CONSUMERS IN THE FINANCIAL MARKETPLACE—For more than 20 years, Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski has helped us stand up against big banks and credit card companies.

A Consumer Cop On the Financial Beat

You work hard for your money. You should be able to save, invest and generally manage your money without fear of being trapped, tricked or ripped off by the institutions you are trusting with your financial future. And from the 2008 economic collapse, we know how big of an impact those institutions can have on our economy when they play fast and loose with our money. 

Since 2009, the solution has been clear. We need to have fair, clear, transparent and enforceable rules that protect consumers in the financial marketplace. Now, we know we can get there through the work of an agency that has those principles at the core of its mission — the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.   

The CFPB Gets the Job Done

Despite the fact that the CFPB is not widely known, we’ve already seen their financial oversight return nearly $12 billion to consumers … in just five years. The CFPB holds big banks, debt collectors, and lenders accountable. Here are a few examples of some of the cases the CFPB has taken on:


When American Honda Finance used discriminatory pricing to rip off African-American, Hispanic, and Asia/ Pacific Island borrowers who paid too much for car loans, the CFPB returned $24 million to these consumers.


The Department of Justice and 47 states joined the CFPB in a $216 million action against JP Morgan Chase Bank for illegal debt collection practices affecting over half a million Americans.


When it was discovered that Wells Fargo employees were opening unauthorized debit and credit accounts using their customer's information, the CFPB fined Wells Fargo $100 million for fraud.


The CFPB fined Equifax andTransUnion — two of the three largest credit reporting agencies — $5 million for selling inflated credit scores to consumers that were different from ones actually used by lenders and returned $17 million to those harmed by the deception.

But the CFPB doesn't just help consumers get their money back, it levels the financial playing field. The CFPB has several specialized departments for veterans, senior citizens, new homeowners, college students, and low-income consumers that seek to educate the public on how to stay safe and provide them with the tools they need to keep their finances secure.

Tell Your Senators: Stand Up For Consumers

Almost every day we hear about some new way of tricking, trapping and ripping off consumers. And despite the fact that tricks like these led directly to the 2008 financial collapse, some Wall Street banks are spending upwards of a million dollars every day to roll back the rules and the CFPB — the very agency that was created to keep them in check. Now, many legislators in Washington want to defund or destroy the CFPB.

Effective consumer protections aren't some sort of luxury we can't afford — they're hallmarks of a great country. As founders and leaders of the movement to create and protect the CFPB, we're working to make sure that our success not only sticks, but that we can build upon it.

Issue updates

Blog Post | Financial Reform

Senate Commerce to vote to restore FTC power to compensate victims of corporate wrongdoers | Ed Mierzwinski

Last year, the Supreme Court eliminated the FTC's key authority to disgorge ill-gotten gains from corporate wrongdoers and use the money to compensate their victims. It was an unfortunate decision that benefited a convicted payday lender who fleeced thousands of victims and will allow brand name Big Pharma firms that block lower-cost generic competitors and other wrongdoers to escape billions of dollars in restitution. The Senate Commerce Committee is voting tomorrow on a bill to restore FTC powers.

-- Cover graphic of FTC Building via Flickr, by Boston Public Library, Some rights reserved.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Banks, Credit Unions and Consumer Groups Call for Passage of Bipartisan Solution to Close ILC Loophole

U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer and bank trade groups to urge Congress to enact the bi-partisan HR5912, to close the Industrial Loan Company (ILC) loophole that threatens the banking system.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

STATEMENT: U.S. PIRG applauds SEC’s climate disclosure rule

Our statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission's newly proposed rule that would require publicly traded companies to improve and standardize the information they disclose about their greenhouse gas emissions.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Will buy now, pay later mean pain later? | Ed Mierzwinski

In a new report, we question whether “Buy Now Pay Later” plans make “no fees or interest!” claims that may not be true. We find that you might be billed for canceled or backordered items, but neither the merchant nor the BNPL provider may take responsibility. You can file a comment in the CFPB’s BNPL inquiry until March 25th. Get our BNPL tips.

Cover image: Courtesy iStock by B4LL, used under license

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB focuses on consumer pain points | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday’s announcement of a new report finding stupefying amounts of medical debt on consumer credit reports continues the Biden CFPB’s focus on identifying and responding to consumer pain points caused by a financial marketplace that doesn’t always work for consumers. The CFPB has your back!

Photo courtesy Americans for Financial Reform, All rights reserved.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Banks, Credit Unions and Consumer Groups Call for Passage of Bipartisan Solution to Close ILC Loophole

U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer and bank trade groups to urge Congress to enact the bi-partisan HR5912, to close the Industrial Loan Company (ILC) loophole that threatens the banking system.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

STATEMENT: U.S. PIRG applauds SEC’s climate disclosure rule

Our statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission's newly proposed rule that would require publicly traded companies to improve and standardize the information they disclose about their greenhouse gas emissions.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Consumer Advocates Urge Court to Block Use of Findings of Unlawful Trump-Era CFPB Taskforce

Democracy Forward, the attorneys for U.S. PIRG, the National Association of Consumer Advocates and Professor Kathleen Engel, filed a motion for summary judgement Friday in U.S. Court in our lawsuit against the Trump-era CFPB's so-called Taskforce on Federal Consumer Financial Law.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Statement: Credit bureaus need to do more than extend free weekly credit reports for another year

Our statement in response to the announcement by the Big Three credit bureaus that they would extend weekly free credit reports for another year in response to the pandemic. They can and  should do much more.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Historic legislation to prevent predatory loans passes Illinois General Assembly

Illiinois PIRG applauds passage of predatory lending reform capping usury ceiling at 36% APR. Measure sent to governor. Illinois will become the 18th state, along with the District of Columbia, that effectively bans payday loans.

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Reining in Wall Street

On July 15, the U.S. Senate passed the Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act by a count of 60 to 39.

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Voting and Democracy Protections

Money plays far too great a role in American elections, from the municipal level all the way up to the presidency.  Large contributions from a limited number of wealthy interests unduly influence who wins elections and reduce the role of citizen voters in our democracy. Maryland PIRG worked to protect voting rights and increase transparency.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Putting Consumers First

U.S. PIRG Education Fund, the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action have released a report recommending that  CFPB should use the full extent of its authority to take immediate action to strengthen its consumer complaint tool, hold companies accountable for providing complete and timely responses to consumers, and leverage consumer complaints related to the pandemic to support oversight and regulatory action to protect consumers.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Debt Collectors

Report: Our latest report based on the CFPB's public Consumer Complaint database reviews the most-complained about debt collectors. Funny, a new CFPB complaint "snapshot" does not. The report comes as the CFPB's acting director threatens to make the database non-public. If the CFPB both shuts down the public database and continues to issue industry-friendly reports that don’t give out any real information, the public and marketplace harm is even greater.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

Our report, Shining A Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database, details why it is important that the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database of over one million consumer complaints remain open to the public, so consumers, researchers and others can study the financial marketplace.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Student, Education, and Consumer Groups Defend CFPB To Congress

On February 13, nearly 60 local, state and national student advocacy, professional, consumer, educational, faith and other organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing "strong support for the crucial work the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does on behalf of student loan borrowers." The "borrower-focused" letter also urged Congress "to ensure the agency remains well-positioned to solve borrowers’ problems, which includes protecting the Bureau’s single-Director structure and its independent funding, and maintaining Director Richard Cordray until his term ends."

> Keep Reading
Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Big Banks, Big Complaints

This report is the first of several that will review complaints to the CFPB nationally and on a state-by-state basis. In this report we explore consumer complaints about bank accounts and services with the aim of uncovering patterns in the problems consumers are experiencing with their banks.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Senate Commerce to vote to restore FTC power to compensate victims of corporate wrongdoers | Ed Mierzwinski

Last year, the Supreme Court eliminated the FTC's key authority to disgorge ill-gotten gains from corporate wrongdoers and use the money to compensate their victims. It was an unfortunate decision that benefited a convicted payday lender who fleeced thousands of victims and will allow brand name Big Pharma firms that block lower-cost generic competitors and other wrongdoers to escape billions of dollars in restitution. The Senate Commerce Committee is voting tomorrow on a bill to restore FTC powers.

-- Cover graphic of FTC Building via Flickr, by Boston Public Library, Some rights reserved.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Will buy now, pay later mean pain later? | Ed Mierzwinski

In a new report, we question whether “Buy Now Pay Later” plans make “no fees or interest!” claims that may not be true. We find that you might be billed for canceled or backordered items, but neither the merchant nor the BNPL provider may take responsibility. You can file a comment in the CFPB’s BNPL inquiry until March 25th. Get our BNPL tips.

Cover image: Courtesy iStock by B4LL, used under license

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB focuses on consumer pain points | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday’s announcement of a new report finding stupefying amounts of medical debt on consumer credit reports continues the Biden CFPB’s focus on identifying and responding to consumer pain points caused by a financial marketplace that doesn’t always work for consumers. The CFPB has your back!

Photo courtesy Americans for Financial Reform, All rights reserved.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Crypto has gone mainstream. But where are the watchdogs? | Adrian Pforzheimer

Matt Damon strides past images of humankind’s boldest explorers: ocean voyagers, early aeronauts, mountaineers in a new cryptocurrency ad. If this were an ad for a new drug, or a regulated financial product, you’d expect the images of boldness and bravery to be accompanied by a lengthy disclaimer. You don't. Find out more.

Image credit Kanchanara via Unsplash

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Whacked by bank or credit card junk fees? The CFPB wants to know. | Ed Mierzwinski

If you’ve been whacked by unexpected or unfair penalty or other junk fees by a bank, mortgage company, or credit card company, the CFPB wants to hear from you. You can send the CFPB a comment on its new “initiative to save households billions of dollars a year by reducing exploitative junk fees.” Find out more here. 

Cover photo "Fees Key" by Gotcredit.com via Flickr. Some rights reserved.

> Keep Reading

Pages

Blog Post

Last year, the Supreme Court eliminated the FTC's key authority to disgorge ill-gotten gains from corporate wrongdoers and use the money to compensate their victims. It was an unfortunate decision that benefited a convicted payday lender who fleeced thousands of victims and will allow brand name Big Pharma firms that block lower-cost generic competitors and other wrongdoers to escape billions of dollars in restitution. The Senate Commerce Committee is voting tomorrow on a bill to restore FTC powers.

-- Cover graphic of FTC Building via Flickr, by Boston Public Library, Some rights reserved.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer and bank trade groups to urge Congress to enact the bi-partisan HR5912, to close the Industrial Loan Company (ILC) loophole that threatens the banking system.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Our statement on the Securities and Exchange Commission's newly proposed rule that would require publicly traded companies to improve and standardize the information they disclose about their greenhouse gas emissions.

Blog Post

In a new report, we question whether “Buy Now Pay Later” plans make “no fees or interest!” claims that may not be true. We find that you might be billed for canceled or backordered items, but neither the merchant nor the BNPL provider may take responsibility. You can file a comment in the CFPB’s BNPL inquiry until March 25th. Get our BNPL tips.

Cover image: Courtesy iStock by B4LL, used under license

Blog Post

Yesterday’s announcement of a new report finding stupefying amounts of medical debt on consumer credit reports continues the Biden CFPB’s focus on identifying and responding to consumer pain points caused by a financial marketplace that doesn’t always work for consumers. The CFPB has your back!

Photo courtesy Americans for Financial Reform, All rights reserved.

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Defend the CFPB

Tell your senators to oppose the “Financial CHOICE Act,” which would gut Wall Street reforms and destroy the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as we know it.

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