Defend the Consumer Bureau

Our Consumer Cop On the Financial Beat

You should be able to save, invest and manage your money without fear of being trapped, tricked or ripped off by the institutions you're trusting with your financial future. That’s why we need strong consumer protections on Wall Street.

The 2008 economic collapse made it even more clear that Americans need a watchdog agency devoted to creating and enforcing fair, clear and transparent rules to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. So in 2010, we helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to be our watchdog on Wall Street. But now, the Trump administration and Wall Street's allies in Congress are looking to weaken or eliminate the Consumer Bureau. We can't let that happen.

The CFPB Gets the Job Done

Despite the fact that the CFPB is not widely known, it's been a huge success 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 CFPB 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: 

In 2015, 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 more than half a million Americans.
When Wells Fargo employees were caught 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 consumers 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. The idea that consumers deserve protection against fraud and other misleading practices shouldn't be controversial.

Yet instead of cheering on the Consumer Bureau, the Trump administration and some members of Congress are pushing to weaken or even get rid of it. 

Senators: Keep our Watchdog on Wall Street

We can keep our consumer cop on the financial beat — but only if we can convince enough senators to stand up and defend the Consumer Bureau, and stop any bad bills that try to roll back or eliminate consumer protections.

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 Bureau to exist: We need to make it even better, by strengthening commonsense consumer protections, spreading the word about its success and potential, and defending it from constant attacks from Wall Street.   

In the wake of the Great Recession, we helped spearhead the creation of the Consumer Bureau. Now, we need your help to stand up for consumer protection once again, and defend the CFPB from those who would weaken or eliminate it.  

Check out our Reports about the CFPB

In the years since the Consumer Bureau was created, we've worked alongside Frontier Group to research and review the CFPB's Consumer Complaint Database to publish a series of reports documenting the problems consumers are facing in the financial marketplace, how the Consumer Bureau is helping to resolve these issues, and what steps should be taken to ensure consumers are protected. Click through to learn more about each of these reports: 

Medical Debt Malpractice
Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees
Predatory Loans & Predatory Loan Complaints
Mortgages and Mortgage Complaints
Debt Collectors, Debt Complaints
Credit Cards, Consumer Complaints
Big Credit Bureaus, Big Mistakes

Private Loans, Public Complaints
Big Banks, Big Complaints

Issue updates

Report | Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Electric Buildings

To prevent air and water pollution and the worst impacts of global warming, America must move toward meeting its energy needs with 100 percent renewable energy. Getting there will require that we get the most out of every bit of energy we use – and that we end the burning of fossil fuels in our homes and commercial buildings.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Deadly infant products sold after recalls at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, HomeGoods

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced today that discount stores T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and HomeGoods sold 19 different recalled products to consumers between 2014 and 2019. In the case of five products, the stores’ parent company TJX initiated the recall. The products included the Rock ‘N Play and Kids II inclined infant sleepers, which are responsible for a number of fatalities, rattles that can break and pose a choking hazard, and electronics that overheat or explode. 

> Keep Reading
News Release | Consumer Protection

U.S. PIRG applauds federal legislation designed to strengthen online privacy rights

A group of U.S. senators on the Commerce Committee, led by Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA), have introduced comprehensive federal online privacy legislation. The bill establishes strong consumer privacy rights, outlaws deceptive practices, improves data security safeguards and preserves stronger state laws.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

New government data & U.S. PIRG investigation reveal unsafe toys impact on kids

Toys sent an estimated 226,000 kids went to the emergency room in 2018. A PIRG Consumer Watchdog report identifies some of the dangerous toys for sale and how to keep kids safe.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

Fighting for a brighter future: Lawsuit seeks to stop rollback of federal energy-efficient light bulb standards

A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit today to challenge a U.S. Department of Energy rule rolling back light bulb efficiency standards.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Public Health, Consumer Protection, Safe Energy

Fighting for a brighter future: Lawsuit seeks to stop rollback of federal energy-efficient light bulb standards

A coalition of environmental groups filed a lawsuit today to challenge a U.S. Department of Energy rule rolling back light bulb efficiency standards.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Heartburn medication recalls continue due to carcinogen concerns

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has confirmed today that the drug manufacturers Dr. Reddy’s and Perrigo have initiated a voluntary recall of all of their generic versions of Zantac (ranitidine) -- commonly used to treat heartburn -- due to carcinogen contamination.

> Keep Reading
News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

Supreme Court agrees to hear case about limits of executive power

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide whether the Constitution allows the president to fire the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) only for cause.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Proposed rule would remove unsafe, inclined infant sleepers from market

Despite more than 50 infant deaths from inclined sleepers, including the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play and the Kids II Rocking Sleeper, many versions of this type of product remain for sale and in homes. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is proposing a new rule that would virtually end the sale of inclined sleepers. 

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Positioned To Protect

With the CFPB under new management less interested in consumer protection and law enforcement, our new report highlights steps states, counties and cities are taking to protect consumers better. Coincidentally, the report was completed on the same day that the U.S. Senate confirmed Kathy Kraninger to a 5-year term as CFPB director. She replaces her mentor, the OMB director Mick Mulvaney, who has been serving as acting CFPB director for just over a year.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Solid Waste

Warranties in the Void

Six months after the FTC warned six companies their “void warranty if removed” labels are forbiddenunder warranty laws, a survey by the consumer group U.S.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection

Equifax Breach: One Year Later

A year ago tomorrow, Equifax announced that hackers had breached its system and accessed the data of nearly 150 million U.S. consumers. To mark the anniversary of that notorious announcement, we are releasing a report containing suggestions on how state and federal authorities and consumers can safeguard personal information.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Debt Collectors

Report: 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.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

Shining A Light on Consumer Problems:

Our report, Shining A Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database, details why it is important that the highly successful Consumer Financial Protection Bureau database of over one million consumer complaints remain open to the public, so consumers, researchers and others can study the financial marketplace.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Questions Congress Should Ask CFPB Director Next Week | Ed Mierzwinski

CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger will deliver the statutory “Semi-Annual Report of the CFPB” to the House Financial Services (10/16) and Senate Banking (10/17) Committees next week. Here are some helpful questions for committee members to ask.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Data Privacy Can't Be Assured Without States and Consumers | Ed Mierzwinski

Recently, the CEOs who make up the Business Roundtable renewed their demand that Congress pass a federal privacy “standard” that preempts stronger state laws. That's the wrong way to go because Congress only does a good job protecting consumers either after a disaster (e.g., Wall Street's collapse of the economy) or after states lead the way. We shouldn't have to wait for a disaster. Learn more.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

In the wake of the Capital One data breach, Ed Mierzwinski and Adam Garber explain how to protect your credit

Were you affected by the Capital One breach, one of the largest thefts of data from any bank to date?

> Keep Reading
Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Committee Takes Actions To Clean Up Credit Bureau Mistakes | Ed Mierzwinski

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.

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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.

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Blog Post

In support of a report by colleagues from the Norwegian Consumer Council on whether the data sharing and privacy practices of a number of dating and other smartphone apps were in compliance with European privacy rules (GDPR) or the new California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), U.S. PIRG and other leading groups sent joint letters to key policymakers, including the California, Oregon and TexaS Attorneys General, the Federal Trade Commission and all members of the U.S. House and Senate. 

Blog Post

Last week, CFPB Director Kathy Kraninger appointed four lawyers and professors to a "Taskforce on Federal Consumer Law." To my knowledge, none have worked for consumer protection organizations yet all have worked as industry consultants or been aligned with industry views, although all have previous government experience. I am aware of several distinguished professors with CFPB experience who were rejected. Incredibly, the announcement of this better-described "Task Farce" claimed inspiration from a distinguished bi-partisan commission established by the Consumer Credit Protection Act in 1968." 

News Release | U.S. PIRG

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush releases legislation to increase transparency around important product injury and death data. 

Blog Post

Parents don’t usually expect the toys they buy to threaten their kid’s health -- especially when that toy is a smiling train from a popular kids show.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Consumer, public health and voter advocacy -- often from the national nonpartisan group U.S. PIRG and its affiliates -- moved the ball forward at the state level in 2019. 

Consumer Protection

New federal bill will make it easier for consumers to know about unsafe, even deadly products

If you had a product in your home that the government knew could cause injury or death, you'd expect the government to warn you, right? Surprisingly, that's not the case for the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The "Safety Hazard and Recall Efficiency Information Act" seeks to change that.

 

Consumer Protection

The Trump administration's Consumer Bureau just appointed a task "farce" on consumer law

The Trump administration's Consumer Financial Protection Bureau just appointed a new task force on consumer law — but according to senior director of PIRG's federal consumer program, Ed Mierzwinski, this task force isn't set up to be on the side of consumers. "It is a task farce," he said.

 

Consumer Protection

Ed Mierzwinski and Katie Murtha named top lobbyists of 2019

PIRG Federal Consumer Program Senior Director Ed Mierzwinski and Vice President of Federal and Government Affairs Katie Murtha have been recognized as being among the top lobbyists in Washington, D.C.

 

Consumer Protection

Watch out for unsafe toys this holiday season

Our annual “Trouble in Toyland” report found toys with choking hazards, recalled toys still for sale, toxics in slime and more.

 
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DEFEND THE CFPB

Tell your representative 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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