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.
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 Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) and Arizona PIRG Education Fund praised Chairwoman Lea Marquez Peterson, Commissioner Sandra Kennedy, Commissioner Anna Tovar, and Commissioner Jim O’Connor - utility regulators at the Arizona Corporation Commission - for voting yesterday to expand programs and services to help Arizonans save energy and money on their electricity bills.
Arizona’s U.S. Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly, our U.S. Representatives, and state and local officials need to lead efforts to significantly increase clean energy and clean transportation. Arizona PIRG Education Fund compiled 10 of numerous documents that illustrate from job creation and utility bill savings to reduced air pollution and decreased adverse health impacts, Arizonans and Arizona businesses clearly benefit from clean energy and clean transportation investments.
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. Arizona PIRG Education Fund analyzed this growing problem for Virtual Wallets, Real Complaints, a new analysis of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) Consumer Complaint Database.
Consumers are increasingly using digital payment apps -- Venmo, Cash App and Zelle are a few -- for convenience. A 2020 Nerdwallet survey found that “[r]oughly 4 in 5 Americans (79%) use mobile payment apps.” The apps were originally marketed as a way for friends to split expenses. However, the ease of opening peer-to-peer (P2P) accounts, the ease of obtaining information about other users and a variety of ways to trick consumers have created new fraud risks to users.
Arizona PIRG Education Fund’s latest report “Getting Off The Hook of a Predatory Tow” highlights 14 common sense towing protections that the organization believes should be available to consumers in every state. The report outlines protections ranging from who is responsible for damages caused by careless towing, to the maximum rates and fees owed when towed, to whether an individual is guaranteed the option to pay by credit card.
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Seeking Compensation for Consumers and Environment
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