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

Over 80 Groups Oppose S.2155 & its Benefits for the Credit Bureaus | Mike Litt

Today, we sent a letter addressed to all members of the House of Represenatives in opposition to S. 2155, or as we call it, the Bank Lobbyist Act. We are joined by 84 other groups and leaders, representing communities, consumers, servicemember, and workers across the country. In particular, this letter explains how the bill benefits Equifax and the other national credit bureaus at the expense of average consumers and our military servciemembers. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Will Flawed CFPB Wells Fargo Consent Order Be Reopened To Help Victims? | Ed Mierzwinski

Questions are being raised. Will the ballyhooed $1 Billion CFPB settlement with Wells Fargo be reopened because it clearly favors the wrongdoer at the expense of the victims? There is a reopening precedent for bad consent orders, which we discuss below.

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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.

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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.

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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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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Statement on the Quarterly Earnings Announcement By Equifax

We join leading consumer groups in a statement about today's earnings announcement from Equifax. On September 7th the behemoth credit bureau finally announced to the world that, in late July, it had discovered an apparent multi-month intrusion into its systems affecting the Social Security Numbers and other personal information of 143 million consumers (later increased to 145.5 million consumers).

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Senate Immunizes Wells Fargo, Equifax and Other Financial Wrongdoers From Consumer Lawsuits

Our statement sharply criticizing Tuesday's Senate vote to overturn an important Consumer Financial Protection Bureau rule allowing consumers, including veterans and servicemembers, to band together to go to court against Wells Fargo, Equifax and other financial wrongdoers. The Vice-President's vote broke a 50-50 tie.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Interactive Map Shows Consumers In 42 States Have No Access To Free Credit Freezes

We've created an interactive map showing all the details of placing credit freezes on your credit report-- where the freeze is free for anyone, where temporary thaws/lifts are free, and where senior citizens, children, other protected classes pay less (or sometimes more). Only previous ID theft victims get freezes for free in every state; that's why we're calling for a new federal free freeze law for everyone else after the Equifax breach. 

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Equifax CEO Retirement Not Enough To Clean Up Credit Bureaus, Need CFPB

Here's our statement by Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski regarding the announcement from Equifax that the retirement of the CEO who presided over its massive data breach and "inadequate, maddening" response was not enough to clean up the credit bureaus. Congress also needs to act to provide free credit freezes for all and to force all of the Big 3 credit bureaus to do a better job.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Statement On CFPB's Rule Restoring Rights To Take Wrongdoers To Court

Financial wrongdoers have long used mandatory arbitration clauses buried in small-print, take-it-or-leave-it contracts to prevent consumers from banding together to have their day in court. Our statement on the CFPB's important new rule restoring consumer rights to join class actions follows.

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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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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Massive Rollback of Dodd-Frank Wall St. Protections Hits Senate Floor, Our Opposition Letter to S2155

We've been working hard to oppose a bill to weaken the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. You remember, that's the law passed in the wake of the second-biggest financial collapse in our history, caused by Wall Street recklessness. The bill has massive support from both Wall Street and community banks. S2155 is on the Senate floor this week. It has enough Democratic votes to pass, but consumer champions are fighting back. Read our opposition letter.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Why The Legal Dispute Over the Leadership of the CFPB Matters | Michael Landis

There’s an important legal fight happening right now over the temporary leadership of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. And U.S. PIRG Education Fund, along with nine other consumer advocacy groups, just weighed in with a friend-of-the-court brief against the President and his pick. Find out why the Consumer Bureau needs to be independent in this blog entry about why the legal dispute over the CFPB matters.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Senator: Consumers Should Have More Control Over Credit Reports. We Agree. | Ed Mierzwinski

Throughout the anger and frustration over the Equifax breach debacle, consumers, reporters and legislators have repeatedly asked me: "Ed, why don't consumers, not credit bureaus, control when their credit reports can be shared or sold?" Now comes U.S. Senator Jack Reed (RI) with a PIRG-backed bill to do just that! 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Have Banker Deregulation Demands Jumped the Shark? | Ed Mierzwinski

When a tired TV show desperate for viewers goes over the top with wacky plots, it is said to have "jumped the shark." Unfortunately, even after the Wells Fargo debacle and even as bank profits return to record levels, the "viewers" of bank deregulation demands -- members of Congress -- still have an unslaked appetite for over-the-top, outrageous proposals to take consumer and financial system safety cops off the bank beat. Meanwhile, the public -- by wide, non-partisan margins, wants to keep the cops on the beat.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

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

Blog Post

In committee votes this week and last week, the House Financial Services Committee sent a package of credit reporting reforms on to the House floor. It's the first major Congressional action to rein in the so-called Big 3 credit bureaus - Equifax, Experian and Trans Union - and other smaller, specialized bureaus and credit scoring companies, since 2003. The Big 3 national credit bureaus have been the most complained about financial firms to the CFPB for four years running, predating the massive Equifax data breach.

Blog Post

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.

Blog Post

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. 

Blog Post

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.

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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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