Financial Reform

Beat High Bank Fees

Banks rely on consumer indifference when they raise fees. They count on consumers not shopping around. PIRG’s Big Banks, Bigger Fees reports routinely find that small banks and credit unions are not following the big banks’ lead; they still offer many free or low cost accounts.

NYT Points Out Overdraft Fees Still A Problem

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

A major article in today's New York Times, "Overdraft Practices Continue to Gut Bank Accounts and Haunt Customers," points out that while 2010 reforms put in place by the pre-CFPB regulators have helped, there's still work to be done to protect consumers from unfair overdraft practices. While years ago banks used "bounced check" fees to deter what was then seen as a negative behavior, more recently they have encouraged overdrafts by offering "standard overdraft protection" as if it is a feature, not a bug. They've made billions.

Digital Data and Consumer Protection: Ensuring a Fair and Equitable Financial Marketplace

Below find links to reports and other work on our Data and Consumer Protection project. Americans face new challenges and opportunities to their financial security as our economy is transformed by the convergence of digital media with “Big Data” technologies. Our use of mobile phones, social media, “apps,” and other online tools have created new ways for us to spend, save and borrow money. Powerful forces are at work, however, that can undermine a consumer’s ability to make the best choices and may place those already financially at risk even more vulnerable.

Media Hit | Financial Reform

Credit Bureaus’ Deal to Improve Accuracy ‘Huge’ for Consumers

(Bloomberg) -- Buying homes, getting jobs and borrowing money will be easier after an agreement by the three biggest U.S. consumer credit reporting services with New York.[...] “It’s a sea change in the way the credit bureaus treat complaints,” said [U.S. PIRG's Ed] Mierzwinski. “The credit bureaus have been run by computers for years now. They’re going to have to hire more people and actually verify that what a creditor said is true.”

UPDATED (9 Feb.) Retail store data breaches make a mess, but an easy one to clean up and the few consumers who become fraud victims are quickly made whole. The Anthem hackers, on the other hand, reportedly obtained a mother lode of information that could be used to commit a variety of serious frauds, including obtaining your tax refund. Read our tips here. Here's the first: Don't click on any emails claiming to be from Anthem; some may be malicious.

Consumer Financial Protection Bureau helps with bank complaints

Since it started accepting complaints about banks 18 months ago, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has helped thousands of irate customers settle disputes over their accounts, with roughly 1 out of 4 complaints resulting in monetary relief, a just-released analysis by a consumer group shows.

News Release | PennPIRG Education Fund | Consumer Protection, Financial Reform

New Report Identifies Banks Consumers Complain About Most

Thousands of Americans are using the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s public Consumer Complaints Database to settle disputes with their banks, according to a new report from the PennPIRG Education Fund. The report highlights banks that generated the most complaints through their various banking services in each state.

If our political leaders REALLY want to help small business…

By | Alana Miller
Program Associate

Small business owners have big troubles with big banks and credit cards and the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) should take a look at the numerous obstacles.

News Release | Financial Reform

New Consumer Agency Takes Over Thursday as Nation’s Consumer Bank Cop

Philadelphia, PA—Leading consumer groups today announced the results of a poll showing that an overwhelming majority of likely voters both support a new consumer agency (74%) and want Wall Street held “accountable” (77%), along with a report documenting “10 reasons” consumers need the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  The Bureau will take over enforcement of all major consumer laws on Thursday, July 21. The groups called for the Senate to vote to confirm former Ohio Attorney General Rich Cordray as its director, so that the CFPB is able to fulfill the promise of consumer financial protection.

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

Ten Reasons We Need Consumer Financial Protection

For years leading up to the 2008 financial collapse, federal bank regulators ignored numerous warnings of increasingly predatory mortgage practices, credit card tricks and unfair overdraft policies used by banks. The banks were earning billions from “gotcha” practices. Incredibly, bank regulators actively encouraged this behavior, arguing it was profitable and kept banks safe. No regulator cared about its other (and, to them, secondary) job: enforcing consumer laws. Some regulators rejected the role and even actively worked to prevent states from carrying it out. Worse, firms were able to pick and choose among regulators, encouraging a “race-to-the-regulatory-bottom.” That is the system that failed to protect us.

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