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

Pages

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.

> Keep Reading
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.

> 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
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.

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

New Report Makes Case To Keep CFPB Complaint Database Public

As the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) acting director continues to threaten to hide the agency’s public Consumer Complaint Database from consumers and researchers, a new report makes a strong case to keep the database public. The report from U.S. PIRG Education Fund and Frontier Group was filed as an official public comment in the CFPB’s Request for Information about the database. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Will Congress fix credit report problem CFPB won't? | Ed Mierzwinski

Our latest report, last week, found July set yet a fifth consecutive month of record consumer complaints to the CFPB. Complaints about credit report mistakes, always among the leaders, have surged dramatically during the pandemic. The CFPB hasn't done anything about it, but Congress has an opportunity in its next relief package to ban negative credit reporting.

> Keep Reading
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.

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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.

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Blog Post

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.

Blog Post

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.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Consumer complaints about peer-to-peer (P2P) payment apps such as PayPal, Venmo and Square have surged during the pandemic year. In April, there were 970 digital wallet complaints — almost double the previous monthly high from July 2020. PIRG Education Fund analyzed this growing problem for a new analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) Consumer Complaint Database.

Blog Post

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 

Blog Post

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.

Financial Reform

Congressional override finally bans anonymous shell companies

From terrorist financing to Medicare fraud, anonymous shell companies have shielded the identities of wrongdoers and served as financial getaway cars for hiding dirty money. But in a historic override of a presidential veto, Congress has outlawed anonymous shell companies in the United States.

 
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