Defend the Consumer Bureau
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 to earn your money. You should be able to save, invest and manage your money without fear of being trapped, tricked or ripped off by the institutions you are trusting with your financial future.
That’s why we need strong consumer protections on Wall Street. 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. It made it clear: Americans need a watchdog agency on Wall Street, devoted to creating and enforcing fair, clear and transparent rules to protect consumers.
So in 2010, we helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to be our consumer cop on the financial beat.
THE CFPB GETS THE JOB DONE
Despite the fact that the CFPB is not widely known, they’ve been hugely successful at working for consumers, returning nearly $12 billion to more than 29 million people who were ripped off by companies that broke the law … in just six years.
The Consumer Bureau holds big banks, debt collectors and lenders accountable. Here are a few examples of some of the cases the CFPB has taken on to protect consumers:
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 and TransUnion — 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.
In addition, the Consumer Bureau has helped level the financial playing field, educating veterans, senior citizens, new homeowners, college students and low-income consumers on how to keep their finances secure.
The Consumer Bureau's success should be earning it applause in Washington. Yet instead of cheering on the agency, the Trump administration and many members of Congress are pushing to weaken or even get rid of it.
Even with the Consumer Bureau on the job, many Americans are still at risk of reckless financial practices that threaten their homes, their retirement savings and their overall well-being. That’s why we don’t simply need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to exist: We need to make it even better, by strengthening commonsense consumer protections.
The amount of money Texans owe on their cars is now at an all-time high -- up 75 percent since the end of 2009 to $6500 per capita, the nation’s highest. Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns about the financial future of millions of households as lenders extend credit to more and more Americans without the ability to repay, according to a new TexPIRG Education Fund report.
“Texans deserve both protection from predatory and unfair practices in auto lending, and a transportation system that provides more people the freedom to live without owning a car,” said Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “Texans shouldn't have to fight their way through a thicket of tricks and traps at the auto dealer just to get the transportation they need to get to work or school."
Access to a car is all but required in much of America to unlock opportunities for work, education and play. But the financial cost to households is steep: Transportation is the second-leading expenditure for American households, behind only housing.
In much of America, access to a car is all but required to hold a job or lead a full and vibrant life. Generations of car-centric transportation policies – including lavish spending on roads, sprawl-inducing land use policies, and meager support for other modes of transportation – have left millions of Americans fully dependent on cars for daily living.
Car ownership is costly, and often requires households to take on debt. In the wake of the Great Recession, Americans rapidly took on debt for car purchases. Since the end of 2009, the amount of money Americans owe on their cars has increased by 75 percent. A significant share of that debt has been incurred by borrowers with lower credit scores, who are particularly vulnerable to predatory loans with high interest rates and inflated costs.
Americans’ rising indebtedness for cars raises concerns for the financial future of millions of households. It also demonstrates the real costs and risks imposed by our car-dependent transportation system. Americans deserve protection from predatory loans and unfair practices in auto lending. Americans also deserve a transportation system that provides more people with the freedom to choose to live without owning a car.
While we are glad that Fiat Chrysler is paying something for damaging the health of Americans and deceiving customers, this settlement does not go far enough. It neither ensures these violations of the public trust won’t happen again nor makes consumers whole.
Why Shop Refurbished?
Black Friday prices year-round: You can usually find great deals on used electronics, getting something that’s like-new, but for a sizable discount. Technically, the minute you open a new device, it becomes used, so the difference between a used and new item can be negligible. You can get an item that’s close to new at prices lower than Black Friday deals.
Buying used is a greener choice: Buying used gifts is better for the environment. Most of the environmental damage from our electronics comes from the manufacturing process.
This holiday season, you can pay even less than you would on Black Friday for electronics, if you buy them used and refurbished. “Fixed for the Holidays” helps consumers purchase used items with confidence -- detailing what to buy, how to know if you are getting a good deal and where to shop.
“Not only can you save 20 percent or more by shopping refurbished, buying used products is better for the environment and cuts waste,” added Bay Scoggin, TexPIRG Director. “It’s a win-win for the person getting the electronics and his or her community.”
Our guide, published at www.TexPIRG.org/feature/usp/fixed-for-the-holidays has tips that help consumers buy refurbished products.
Tools & Resources
Seeking Compensation for Consumers and Environment
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