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

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.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Will Executive Order Slow The March of the Mega-Banks? | Ed Mierzwinski

President Biden's recent Executive Order on promoting competition in the economy includes several specific recommendations on improving competition in the financial sector. It proposes that the CFPB give consumers more choices by giving them control of their financial data. It proposes that regulators strengthen oversight of bank mergers, which for years have been routinely rubber-stamped. While it doesn't specifically address the payment system oligopoly that raises the prices everyone pays, lowering swipe fees is also a logical outcome of the EO.

Cover photo of the Marriner Eccles Federal Reserve Building, Washington, DC by Rafael Saldaña via Flickr, Some Rights Reserved.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House to take key vote to protect consumers today | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the U.S. House takes a key vote. HR2668, the Consumer Protection and Recovery Act, would restore the FTC's Section 13(b) authority to hold wrongdoers accountable and compensate consumer-victims harmed by their actions. The Supreme Court had recently ruled that the power, used for over 40 years to recover billions, was not clearly articulated in law.

Cover photo via Flickr by Mr. Blue MauMau, some rights reserved.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House to vote on restoring FTC powers to compensate victims of corporate crime | Ed Mierzwinski

Next week, the full House of  Representatives is expected to vote on HR2668, critical legislation to restore Federal Trade Commission authority to disgorge ill-gotten gains from corporate wrongdoers to use to compensate victims of the crime. This spring, the Supreme Court had held that the power was not clearly defined in law, even though courts had upheld the authority for many years, allowing the FTC to return billions of dollars  to consumers.

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

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Americans need stronger consumer protections during COVID-19 crisis

U.S. PIRG Education Fund has released a report with the Student Borrower Protection Center and Consumer Action. The report makes recommendations to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to upgrade its consumer complaint tool, including the public consumer complaint database, so COVID19-related complaints can be handled more quickly and tracked better.

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Marriott discloses second security breach in 16 months

Marriott, the world’s largest hotel chain in terms of guest rooms, disclosed Tuesday that up to 5.2 million customers were impacted by a security breach related to the company’s loyalty app.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

Equifax penalty is a “sweetheart deal” that leaves consumers at risk

Our response to Equifax paying a $650 million penalty for exposing the social security numbers of 148 million Americans to identity theft.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

U.S. PIRG and Leading Groups Demand Real Privacy Protection and Digital Rights

Today, U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer, privacy and civil rights groups to issue a Privacy Protection and Digital Rights Framework that must form the basis of any new federal privacy law. The release comes as a phalanx of big tech firms and their allies is urging Congress to instead enact a new law that serves them, but preempts stronger state laws and allows all current intrusive industry data collection, sharing and surveillance practices to continue unfettered by any aspect of consumer control or rights.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Unlike CFPB’s “Snapshot,” PIRG report reveals which debt collectors Americans file complaints about most

News Release: 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.

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Big Banks Bigger Fees

Since Congress largely deregulated consumer deposit (checking and savings) accounts beginning in the early 1980s, the PIRGs have tracked bank deposit account fee changes and documented the banks’ long-term strategy to raise fees, invent new fees and make it harder to avoid fees.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Financial Reform, Transportation

Greasing the Wheels

In the wake of the Minnesota I-35 bridge collapse there was enormous public outcry and recognition of the need to repair our crumbling infrastructure. Americans expected public officials to respond to the tragedy with a large scale effort to address the nearly 73,000 structurally deficient bridges in this country. The findings in this report suggest that did not happen.

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Report | Maryland PIRG Foundation | Budget, Democracy, Financial Reform

Forgiving Fraud and Failure

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices are being rewarded with billions of dollars in federal contracts. The data suggest that the process by which the federal government currently spends $422 billion per year in taxpayer funds is insufficient to ensure that the American people receive good quality for goods and services purchased for the American people.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House to vote on restoring FTC powers to compensate victims of corporate crime | Ed Mierzwinski

Next week, the full House of  Representatives is expected to vote on HR2668, critical legislation to restore Federal Trade Commission authority to disgorge ill-gotten gains from corporate wrongdoers to use to compensate victims of the crime. This spring, the Supreme Court had held that the power was not clearly defined in law, even though courts had upheld the authority for many years, allowing the FTC to return billions of dollars  to consumers.

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

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Virtual wallet, payment app complaints skyrocket | Ed Mierzwinski

Consumers increasingly are using digital peer-to-peer payment (P2P) apps for convenience. However, that convenience can quickly turn to inconvenience as the result of these apps’ often-confusing design, poor customer service and propensity for being used for scams and fraud. The number of written complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about these apps and other financial tools in the “mobile or digital wallet” category has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching new heights in 2021.

Cover photo by grinvalds via IStock 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Don’t let Sacklers off the hook for role in opioid crisis | Ed Mierzwinski

We’re backing legislation to prevent the billionaire Sackler family from using the corporate bankruptcy of its company Purdue Pharma (makers of Oxycontin and other opioids) to avoid personal liability in ongoing lawsuits by some 24 state Attorneys General attempting to bring some justice to the families of the victims of the opioid crisis. Congress held a hearing Tuesday, June 8 at noon ET.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Credit CARD Act of 2009 didn’t break the world, it fixed a broken marketplace | Ed Mierzwinski

Twelve years ago today I was in the Rose Garden for the signing of the Credit CARD Act. It ended many unfair practices by banks intended to gouge consumers.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Congress should confirm Lina Khan to the FTC and give FTC more tools | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday the Senate Commerce Committee held an oversight hearing on strengthening the FTC's tools to protect consumers. Today it held a confirmation hearing for President Biden's nominee to the FTC, Professor Lina Khan. U.S. PIRG supports both. (Photo of sculptor "Michael Lantz's Man Controlling Trade" (outside the FTC) by Steve Fernie, Some Rights Reserved.)

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News Release | U.S. PIRG

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) turns 11 years old, a new list from U.S. PIRG highlights 11 ways this crucial agency has rededicated itself to its mission since Rohit Chopra was confirmed as its new director by the Senate last fall.

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

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