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

U.S. PIRG Statement on President Trump’s First Address to Congress

President Trump gave his first address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, highlighting his legislative priorities for the coming year. His speech touched on issues ranging from the budget, infrastructure, and special interest influence in government.

> Keep Reading
Report | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Student, Education, and Consumer Groups Defend CFPB To Congress

On February 13, nearly 60 local, state and national student advocacy, professional, consumer, educational, faith and other organizations sent a letter to Congressional leaders expressing "strong support for the crucial work the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) does on behalf of student loan borrowers." The "borrower-focused" letter also urged Congress "to ensure the agency remains well-positioned to solve borrowers’ problems, which includes protecting the Bureau’s single-Director structure and its independent funding, and maintaining Director Richard Cordray until his term ends."

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

Court to Rehear CFPB’s Constitutionality

Statement by Mike Landis, Litigation Director at U.S. PIRG, about today’s decision by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear en banc the panel ruling against the CFPB’s independent leadership. 

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News Release | Consumer Protection

Unilever: Go Toxic-Free

On Valentine’s Day, consumer groups thank Unilever for great first step in disclosing fragrance ingredients and call on personal care giant to go toxic-free.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Defending the Consumer Bureau and Richard Cordray | Kathryn Lee

“Rich Cordray is the LeBron James of regulators, it makes no sense to fire him.” Our consumer program director, Ed Mierzwinski, is right. We need to maintain a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, free from political and outside-industry influence. And to do that, we need to ensure Richard Cordray remains the Bureau’s director until the end of his term.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund | Financial Reform

New Survey Shows Free Checking Widely Available At Small Banks But Banks Still Hiding Fees from Consumers

A survey of hundreds of banks and credit unions in 24 states and the District of Columbia found that free checking remains available at more than 6 out of 10 small banks and credit unions but was only found at one-quarter of surveyed big banks (those with over $10 billion in deposits). The survey released today by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group also revealed that fewer than half of branches surveyed obeyed their legal duty to fully disclose fees to prospective customers on the first request, while 12% provided no fee information at all.

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Washington Post: Can’t fix error in your credit report? Call Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

"A much-cited study by the National Association of State Public Interest Research Groups found that almost 79 percent of all credit reports had some type of error."

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

JPMorgan Chase is sued in 2008 Bear Stearns mortgage case

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Higher Ed

As Fall Financial Aid is Disbursed, Senator Issues Urgent Warning to Students Using Campus Debit Cards

Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), Chairman of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Financial Institution and Consumer Protection, issued an urgent warning to students receiving financial aid in the next two weeks that predatory bank fees can quickly cut into their college money.

> Keep Reading

New York Times: Secret E-Scores Chart Consumers’ Buying Power

Ed Mierzwinski, consumer program director at the United States Public Interest Research Group in Washington, worries that federal laws haven’t kept pace with change in the digital age. “There’s a nontransparent, opaque scoring system that collects information about you to generate a score — and what your score is results in the offers you get on the Internet,” he says. “In most cases, you don’t know who is collecting the information, you don’t know what predictions they have made about you, or the potential for being denied choice or paying too much.”

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

NY Investigates Banks "Forcing" Consumers To Buy Overpriced Mortgage Insurance | Ed Mierzwinski

It's called force-placed insurance for a reason. Your mortgage lender buys it for you and you are forced to pay for it, even if it isn't the best deal for you. When lenders purchase a product to "benefit" consumers, they often have numerous incentives to make the more expensive, not less-expensive, choice due to what's called reverse competition. That's a bad deal for you and a bad deal for the economy, but a good deal for the kind of sordid crony capitalism that relies on kickbacks, not better products. Fortunately, the New York Department of Financial Services (both banking and insurance) and the CFPB are both taking a deep dive into the forced-place-insurance mess.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

JP Morgan Chase Losses Could Speed Volcker Rule, Slow Other Rollbacks | Ed Mierzwinski

The silver lining in the JP Morgan Chase gambling (they call it "hedging") losses now predicted to reach $3-5 billion, not just $2 billion, is that Congress has slowed misguided efforts to slow or repeal important reforms to derivatives trading. Also, you can "like" or comment on my recent debate position  over at US News and World Report urging the Federal Reserve to use this latest big bank mess to implement a strong Volcker rule against risky bank betting with other people's money.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

JP Morgan Chase: $2 Billion Debacle Shows It May Be Too Big To Manage | Ed Mierzwinski

Last week the nation's largest -- and to date least vulnerable to attack for stupid bank tricks  -- bank, JP Morgan Chase, lost two billion dollars in a very bad derivatives bet. Now Chase's until-now-Teflon-coated CEO Jamie Dimon faces increased scrutiny over his own and his firm's loud and arrogant opposition to the Volcker rule and exchange trading of derivatives -- two Dodd-Frank Wall Street reforms not yet implemented due to the obstinacy of bankers like him that might have prevented the loss. The episode also raises the question: Are the big banks too big to manage?

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

Overdraft bill to end $35 cup of coffee and other bank reform highlights | Ed Mierzwinski

Yesterday, U.S. PIRG joined U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (NY) and other leading members in front of the U.S. Capitol to introduce the Overdraft Protection Act of 2012. Also this week, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau described its proposal to simplify mortgage points and fees. Click read more to find about these and other important financial stories this week.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection

You can pick your friends, and even your bank, but you're stuck with the reckless credit bureaus | Ed Mierzwinski

You can pick your friends and even your bank but you are stuck with the credit bureaus.  Over the last twenty years the power of the big credit bureaus to act as gatekeepers to consumer success in life has grown immensely. Credit reports and credit scores generated from them are used to decide whether consumers can get a job, get car insurance, qualify to open a bank account, rent an apartment, use a debit card and, of course, whether they can obtain and how much they will pay for credit. The Columbus (OH) Dispatch has an excellent four-part series explaining that the credit bureaus make mistakes, lots of them, and ruin peoples' lives. There is hope, however, since the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has new tools to rein in the bureaus.

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Report | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Our research found the majority of grocery stores fail to warn the public about hazardous food recalls. While they collect significant information about Americans shopping habits to sell us more food, they aren't doing enough to use that information to protect the public health.

News Release | U.S. PIRG Education Fund

Americans are not hearing about food recalls, and that communication breakdown is having serious repercussions for public health. A new report finds that most grocery stores -- which should be one of the best places to learn about recalls -- don’t make it easy for consumers to uncover this information.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

Congress must hold companies accountable for failing to protect condumers' confidential information.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

An investigation into EvenFlo's booster seat safety testing for side-impact collisions has emphasized the need for stronger car seat safety regulations.

News Release | U.S. PIRG

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed the Comprehensive CREDIT (Credit Reporting Enhancement, Disclosure, Innovation, and Transparency) Act of 2020 (HR3621).

Consumer Protection

More than 165,000 life-threatening infant sleepers recalled

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) announced on Jan. 29 that four companies have issued recalls for more than 165,000 inclined infant sleepers, which fail to meet the safe sleep guidelines recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The CPSC's recall is an important step forward — we're continuing to urge manufacturers to stop producing these sleepers for good.

 

Consumer Protection

How safe is our food?

From chicken with chunks of metal to romaine lettuce with E. coli, our new report shows contaminated food continues to threaten the health of millions of Americans.

 

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.

 
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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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