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 | MASSPIRG | Financial Reform

As CFPB Turns 5 Years Old, MASSPIRG Celebrates Accomplishments

This week, on July 21, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau turns 5 years old. The CFPB, a brainchild of then-professor Elizabeth Warren, was championed by MASSPIRG and a coalition of civil rights and community groups as part of Wall Street Reform legislation enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse triggered by risky bank practices.

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News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

Privacy, Consumer Groups Critical of Facial Recognition Report

We've joined leading privacy and consumer advocates in a news release sharply critical of a supposed "best-practices" report released today by the Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) concerning privacy and facial recognition technology. While the report purports to be the product of a "multi-stakeholder" process, all the leading privacy and consumer stakeholders dropped out of the skewed proceedings many months ago, as the release explains. It concludes: "There is much more lacking in these “best practices,” but there is one good thing: this document helps to make the case for why we need to enact laws and regulations to protect our privacy."

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

We oppose latest effort to weaken CFPB, other bank regulators | Ed Mierzwinski

Today, the House Financial Services Committee holds its latest cattle-call markup of a package of industry-backed bills designed to weaken consumer, taxpayer, depositor and investor protections. We've signed a letter opposing the so-called TAILOR (Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk) Act, which piles redundant requirements onto the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and other regulators to do what they already do by existing law--treat small banks and credit unions differently than mega-banks. Also, the PIRG-backed Americans for Financial Reform sent up a letter opposing the TAILOR Act and 6 more of the 10 bills on the agenda because they are designed to weaken consumer, taxpayer, depositor and investor protections.

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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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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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News Release | MASSPIRG | Financial Reform

Remove Barriers to Low Interest Rates

Congress has a rare bipartisan opportunity to put more money in Americans’ pockets, strengthen the housing market and boost the entire economy.

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Financial Reform

Victory for the American Public, first step to making Big banks accountable

 

Banks will make $25 billion downpayement on penalties owed to the American people in a robo-signing lawsuit settelement, and they can still be held accountable for other violations. MASSPIRG Attorney comments on this victory for the American public.

 

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News Release | MASSPIRG | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

President Gives Consumer Watchdog the Teeth it Needs

MASSPIRG Applauds Bold and Important Recess Appointment of Richard Cordray to Head New Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

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Forgiving Fraud and Failure

Companies with immediate past histories of shoddy work and fraudulent practices are being rewarded with billions of dollars in federal contracts. The data suggest that the process by which the federal government currently spends $422 billion per year in taxpayer funds is insufficient to ensure that the American people receive good quality for goods and services purchased for the American people.

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2006 Congressional Score Card

The 2006 Scorecard looks at the most important public interest votes taken between February 9, 2005 and February 1, 2006 in the U.S. Congress. These votes determined the direction of federal policy on critical issues ranging from environmental preservation to health care to consumer protections.

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Who's Watching The Watchdogs?

Conflicts of interest and lack of independent funding have doomed both the national and state level accounting oversight systems in the United States. The state accounting boards and the network of overlapping, mostly self-regulatory federal accounting overseers act as classic regulators, serving management instead of serving investors and taxpayers.

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Blog Post | Financial Reform

CFPB to announces overdraft fee investigation, unveiling "penalty box" disclosure, possibly ending $39 lattes.Ed MierzwinskiElizabeth Weyant

At a news conference in NYC today, Director Richard Cordray of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will announce a major investigation of bank overdraft fee practices and propose a model "penalty box" disclosure to appear on bank statements. The investigation could end the $39 latte-- $4 bucks for the coffee, $35 for the debit card overdraft fee.

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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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