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

As CFPB Reviews Overdraft Rules, UK Regulator Makes Pro-Consumer Changes | Ed Mierzwinski

As the CFPB conducts a ten-year regulatory review of the Overdraft Rule established by the pre-CFPB regulators in 2010, the UK's Financial Conduct Authority has announced sweeping changes to address what it calls a "dysfunctional" overdraft market. The US system prohibits overdraft fees on debit and ATM transactions unless you opt-in to fee-based "standard overdraft protection," but the fees average over $32 per overdraft and CFPB has accused some banks of deceptive marketing of the service. Meanwhile, the UK's FCA is banning fixed fee overdrafts and requiring UK banks to treat overdrafts as loans subject to reasonable interest rates. We've asked CFPB to ban overdrafts on debit and ATM transactions.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Consumer Privacy Fight In Congress Intensifies | Ed Mierzwinski

The media are reporting that efforts led by BigTech and BigPhone to push Congress to enact a self-serving umbrella privacy law on Capitol Hill are stalling. But that's only for now; they are still pushing hard. Pushback from legislators with stronger state laws is helping slow them down. So are the welcome efforts of civil rights colleagues to demand that digital and algorithmic decisions not discriminate. There's an important civil rights briefing later this afternoon on Capitol Hill. Learn more. 

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

State PIRGs Join National Consumer Lobby Day At Congress | Ed Mierzwinski

State PIRG staff from around the country joined over 120 consumer advocates at the third annual Consumer Lobby Day today. Meetings with members of Congress and their staffs focused on protecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's structure and funding while also opposing its current leadership's attack on a payday lending regulation drafted by its past director and his team.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB's Kraninger Provides Opaque Statement To Committee; Questions and Second Panel Will Be Critical | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, new CFPB director Kathy Kraninger testifies to Congress for the first time. The House Financial Services Committee will need to drill down with tough questions. Why? Kraninger's written pre-filed statement reads like an answer to a warped question from old television's Sergeant Joe Friday: "Just the irrelevant, off-point facts, ma'am." The committee should also look to the cogent testimony of consumer, civil rights, military family and student advocates also appearing today.

> Keep Reading
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.

> Keep Reading

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Fast track the citizens united bill

Not so long ago, "Citizens United vs. the Federal Elections Commission" was just a pending obscure decision facing the Supreme Court.

But on January 21, with a cataclysmic ruling, what was once only on the minds of a few fretting campaign finance reformers made its way to America's front pages.

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Are Campaign Contributions Greasing the Wheels for New Highway Construction?

The nation has 73,000 crumbling bridges, but year after year startlingly few federal transportation dollars go to fixing them.

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Federal consumer protection bill draws praise, wariness

Federal legislation intended to add new protections for financial products is drawing some opposition from banks and financial planners, but support from consumer advocates who say the safeguards are needed.

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U.S. PIRG Applauds House Committee Vote to Advance Landmark Consumer Agency to Replace System that Failed

The U.S. House Financial Services Committee approved landmark reform legislation Thursday, establishing a proposed Consumer Financial Protection Agency, despite “often blatantly false attacks from industry opponents.”

> Keep Reading

Fraud, Failure No Deterrent to Federal Contract Awards

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices still receive billions of dollars in federal contracts, according to a new report by the Maryland PIRG Foundation.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

We Join Groups in FTC Privacy Complaints Against Facebook and Google's YouTube | Ed Mierzwinski

We've joined complaints that two behemoth firms are in violation of Federal Trade Commission privacy rules. In the first, U.S. PIRG joins the Electronic Privacy Information Center and other groups claiming that a number of Facebook's practices - particularly, its use of facial recognition techniques without consent -- violate a previous 2011 privacy order. The facial recognition practice may also violate PIRG-backed Illinois law. Second, we join the Center for Digital Democracy's filing alleging that Google's YouTube collects information about kids in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). And we haven't forgotten about Equifax.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

32 state Attorneys General to Congress: Don't replace our stronger privacy laws! | Mike Litt

Some 32 Democratic and Republican state Attorneys General have sent a strong letter to the bi-partisan sponsors of a draft federal data breach and data security bill. The weak, industry-backed proposal from Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) would override, or preempt, numerous better state privacy laws and, importantly, prevent states from ever again acting to protect their citizens' financial DNA better. We don't like the bill either.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

We Signed A Letter In 2014 But That Doesn't Mean We Support The Bank Lobbyist Act | Mike Litt

Why would we support an amendment to make a bad bill worse? We wouldn't. Here's our explainer on how our signature on a 2014 letter should not have been used to somehow imply we supported an amendment to S2155 on credit scoring favoring Equifax and the other Big 3 credit bureaus.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

What You Haven’t Heard About that Bad Banking Bill; It Preempts State Identity Theft Reforms | Mike Litt

We're opposing S2155 on the Senate floor this week. The main message against in the media has been that it puts mortgage borrowers at risk of bad loans and racial discrimination. Worse, it puts our economy at risk by removing important bank regulator tools to rein in risky practices by giant and big banks. For that matter, it could even allow risky practices to migrate to community banks. But there's more. The bill's so-called consumer protection provisions intended to offset its rollbacks, including its free credit freeze, aren't that good and preempt stronger state actions.

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus Let Wrongdoers Run Amok, Disrupt Mortgage-Seekers | Ed Mierzwinski

In the run-up to the 2006-2007 mortgage bubble that led to the total collapse of our financial system in 2008, the Big 3 credit bureaus sold products known as "trigger lists" that aided sketchy mortgage companies in disrupting consumer transactions. The lists were "credited" with making a bad situation worse. Guess what? Longtime syndicated housing columnist Ken Harney warns: "they're back."

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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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