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

Bipartisanship Works in State Attorneys General Lawsuits Against Big Tech’s Google and Facebook | Ed Mierzwinski

In late 2020, state and federal consumer cops filed several enforcement actions against the powerful Big Tech platforms Google and Facebook over practices alleged to violate antitrust and competition laws.  What is notable about these efforts is the degree of bipartisanship and collaboration involved. Ideally, Congress will find a way to follow the bipartisan lead of the state consumer cops and make its continued investigations and actions against the Big Tech firms that now dominate the economy more effective.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Dating App Grindr Fined Over $11M By Norwegian Agency and Other BigTech News | Ed Mierzwinski

In January, the Norwegian Data Protection Authority fined the dating app Grindr over $11 million for violating its users' privacy. In January 2020, U.S. PIRG and others had asked the FTC to investigate Grindr and other dating and health apps, but the agency has not taken action. In other news: January 2021, our coalition also asked the FTC to investigate the alleged difficulty of cancelling an Amazon Prime membership. Oh, and we've also urged Senate leaders not to give BigTech lobbyists any senior antitrust jobs!

> 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.

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

FTC Complaint: Ending an Amazon Prime Membership Is a Deceptive, Unlawful Ordeal

U.S. PIRG joins Public Citizen and others urging FTC to investigate cancellation practices at Amazon Prime, based on findings of report by Norwegian Consumer Council.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Should we fire the Big 3 credit bureaus? | Ed Mierzwinski

President-elect Biden's platform includes a proposal to replace the private credit bureaus with a public credit registry. Here's why it's a worthy idea.

> Keep Reading

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

U.S. Supreme Court Hears Argument in Case Affecting Consumers Nationwide

U.S. PIRG experts comment on a case heard before the Supreme Court Monday concerning whether American Express rules preventing merchants from steering customers to alternative lower-cost cards violate the antitrust laws. Hint: We agree with and supported several states that brought the case on behalf of their citizens. We also make the point that unless the states prevail, the practices of dominant tech platforms like Google and Amazon and Facebook will also be immunized from action.

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

Consumer Advocates Explain Crucial Public Interest in a Strong CFPB

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) independence from external political influence is crucial to the agency’s mission of protecting consumers, 10 groups, including U.S. PIRG Education Fund, told a U.S. appellate court today in an amicus brief filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The groups are supporting the appeal of CFPB Deputy Director Leandra English in her lawsuit against the President and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney over the proper leadership of the Bureau in the absence of a Senate-confirmed director.

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

We Back Legislation to Hold Credit Bureaus Accountable To Consumer-Victims For Breaches

Since the massive Equifax data breach, three things, among others, have been made very clear: (1) A credit bureau breach is worse than other breaches, because the bureaus hold a vast trove of our personal information useful to identity thieves; (2) The bureaus treat us with disdain, as products, not customers; (3) The credit bureaus are largely unaccountable to consumers. Our statement in suppport of the Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Mark Warner  "Data Breach Prevention and Compensation Act" to hold large credit reporting agencies (CRAs) - including Equifax - accountable for data breaches involving consumer data."

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

Consumer Advocates File in Support of Acting CFPB Director Leandra English

This is a joint press release from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and other leading consumer and civil rights organizations explaining our amicus (friend of the court) brief filed today in support of acting CFPB director Leandra English. English was appointed acting director by outgoing director Richard Cordray, but the President has claimed authority to appoint Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney to simultaneously be acting director of the Consumer Bureau. English seeks a preliminary injunction blocking the Mulvaney appointment.

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

Statement On Departure Today of Consumer Bureau Director Richard Cordray

U.S. PIRG and the state PIRGs commend Rich Cordray for his over six years as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s first director. In its short years as the nation’s top consumer cop, all under Director Cordray, the young Bureau has returned $12 billion dollars to over 29 million consumer victims of financial schemes by wrongdoers ranging from Wall Street banks, mortgage companies and for-profit schools to debt collectors, credit bureaus and payday lenders. FULL STATEMENT FOLLOWS.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

U.S. House passes major credit reporting reform | Ed Mierzwinski

On Monday, the U.S. House approved H.R. 5332, the Protecting Your Credit Score Act of 2020 (Gottheimer-NJ). U.S. PIRG joined other leading advocates of credit reporting reform in a support letter to the House last week. The bill takes a number of steps to make it easier to fix credit reporting errors.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Consumer Groups & Bank Associations Urge Congress To Protect COVID19 Checks From Garnishment | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer groups and bank trade associations in a joint letter urging Congress at the soonest possible opportunity to clarify that economic impact payments responding to this public health emergency are exempt from otherwise legally binding garnishment orders.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Cordray To "Oblivious" CFPB: "Shield" Families From Economic Harms | Ed Mierzwinski

Rich Cordray, the first director of the CFPB and author of a new book on his six years at its helm, has issued a powerful memo to its current director, Kathy Kraninger, urging her to stop "relaxing" duties on financial firms and to "lose no further time" in "shield[ing] households and families" from the "economic harms" they face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB's First Director, Rich Cordray, Publishes "Watchdog" | Ed Mierzwinski

The CFPB's first director, Rich Cordray, has published a book, "Watchdog," explaining efforts to set up and run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Half of CFPB Complaints in 2019 About Credit Reports As House Brings Reforms To Floor | Ed Mierzwinski

On Wednesday, the full U.S. House is expected to vote on a credit reporting reform package, HR 3621, the Comprehensive CREDIT Act. Meanwhile, a PIRG analysis finds that half of all complaints to the CFPB in 2019 concerned credit reporting and the most-complained about companies, in the entire database, were the so-called  Big 3 credit bureaus.

> Keep Reading

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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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