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

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

More Than 100 Groups Insist on No Riders in Spending Legislation

The day before the White House is expected to release its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal, a coalition of more than 100 groups, including U.S. PIRG, sent a letter calling on President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains ideological policy riders.

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Blog Post | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

100+ Groups Oppose Provisions That Threaten Public Protections | Mike Litt

The White House is expected to release its fiscal year 2017 budget proposal tomorrow. U.S. PIRG and various state PIRGs joined a coalition of more than 100 groups that sent the following letter calling on President Barack Obama and all 535 members of Congress to oppose any federal appropriations bill that contains ideological policy riders. 

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB Criticizes Banks Re Account Opening and Overdrafts, Offers Consumer Tips | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the CFPB is holding a field hearing in Louisville on problems consumers face when opening bank accounts. It finds that big banks frequently offer consumers expensive accounts where they risk overdraft fees instead of affordable accounts. Further, the CFPB finds that the practices of specialty "bad check" credit bureaus make it harder to open accounts. The CFPB issued warnings to both the banks and credit bureaus while providing consumers with new tips and advice.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

House Committee Launches Trojan Horse Assault On State Privacy Laws | Ed Mierzwinski

This afternoon (Tuesday, 8 December), the U.S. House Financial Services Committee launches a massive attack on state privacy laws. Hidden inside a seemingly modest proposal to establish federal data breach notice requirements is a Trojan Horse provision designed to to take state consumer cops off the privacy beat, completely and forever. That's wrong, because the states have always been key first responders and leaders on privacy threats that Congress has ignored, from credit report accuracy and identity theft to data breaches and do-not-call lists.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

THE CFPB IS 4 YEARS OLD AND HAS A LOT TO SHOW FOR IT! | Ed Mierzwinski

We're keeping busy promoting the CFPB's 4th birthday. Tuesday, July 21, marks four years to the day since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors to protect consumers and make financial markets work. CFPB was established by Congress just one year before that, with the July 21, 2010 passage of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in the wake of the financial collapse of 2007-2008, caused by a lack of adequate regulation.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

MASSPIRG Commends President for Renomination of Richard Cordray to Head CFPB

President renominates Richard Cordray as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

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Central Mass Colleges Score Over $150K From Credit Card Agreements

Central Mass colleges and alumni associations received over $150,000 from credit card company agreements in 2011, according to the 2012 annual report and database from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

MASSPIRG outlines agressive credit card marketing practices and provides tips on how to avoid high fees. 

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts will get seat on Senate Banking Committee

Deirdre Cummings, legislative director for MASSPIRG, a consumer advocacy group, said the appointment will be “good news for consumers.” “She has a demonstrated track record of standing up for the average consumer and working to ensure that they have some financial security, that they have an understanding of the financial products,” Cummings said.

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Media Hit | Financial Reform

Warren Already at the Center of a D.C. Battle

“The companies responsible for the 2008 financial collapse — the Wall Street banks, the Chamber of Commerce and others — are trying to keep one of the architects of Wall Street reform off the Senate Banking Committee,” said Ed Mierzwinski, a consumer advocate in the national office of MASSPIRG.

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MassPIRG finds banks refuse to disclose fees

New bank fee survey finds some banks failing to properly disclose their fees.

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Report | Good Jobs First | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Show Us the Stimulus (Again)

A report released today shows that many states are making dramatic improvements in websites designed to disseminate information about their share of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), while others have failed to make vital information available.

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Massachusetts Stimulus Website

hree watchdog groups released their findings about the strengths and weaknesses of the state’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act website – www.Ma.gov/recovery .

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Report | McCormack Graduate School of Policy Studies | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Report of the Quasi-Public Authority Compensation Review Commission

New report calls for improved transparency in Quasi-Public Authorities

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Report | MASSPIRG | Budget, Financial Reform, Tax

Tax Shell Game

Many of the largest corporations in our country hide profits made in the United States in offshore shell companies and sham headquarters in order to avoid paying billions in federal taxes.

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Failing the Bailout

Following the collapse of major financial institutions Congress enacted a sweeping $700 billion taxpayer-financed bailout of the financial sector.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

Testimony in favor of Combined Reporting Legislation | Phineas Baxandall

In-state businesses are playing on an uneven field, competing against multi-state companies that use high-priced, sophisticated accountants and complex transactions with subsidiaries to avoid paying Massachusetts taxes. While currently legal, some multi-state businesses can shift their Massachusetts profits to out-of-state subsidiaries to avoid paying taxes here; while businesses located only in Massachusetts cannot take advantage of these loopholes or other tax shell games.

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Defend the CFPB

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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