Consumer Protection

UPDATED: REINS Approved, near party line vote. Today, the House Financial Services Committee takes up a package of smaller rollback bills, many of which are opposed by Americans for Financial Reform and the PIRGs. Meanwhile, the House will bring up the Godzilla of all anti-health and safety bills, the REINS Act. Fortunately, the President has promised a veto.

The CFPB is 4 years old and has a lot to show for it!

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

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. We've summarized some of the ways CFPB works for you on a new web page.

Meet the CFPB:

The CFPB is four years old on July 21. Find out how the CFPB is working for consumers, and learn more about how it can help you. It's already returned $10 billion to consumers and handled over 600,000 consumer complaints.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Consumer Protection

We Commend CFPB For Adding Consumer Stories To Public Complaint Database

Yesterday, the CFPB published the first batch (7,700) of consumer narratives or stories to the Public Consumer Complaint Database it began in 2011. We've used the database to publish five reports (so far) analyzing complaint trends in markets ranging from credit cards to student loans but we have also long urged the voluntary addition of stories to the data fields. Now, consumers can learn if what happened to them happened to anyone else. Now, researchers can track which banks are more responsive to particular problems and which ignore their customers. A good resource is now an excellent resource.

Today, the House Appropriations Committee, at the behest of both Wall Street and predatory lenders seeking to run amok, will vote to eliminate the CFPB's independence from the politicized appropriations process. Meanwhile, over at the CFPB, important work to protect consumers, including servicemembers, from unfair and predatory financial practices continues.

Data Breach Here, Data Breach There, Data Breach Everywhere!

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

UPDATED 10 June Re DHS Breach: If you shop with plastic, have health insurance, pay taxes, work for the federal government, or (fill in blank) you’re at risk of a data breach. And with so much information about you already available on the Internet, it’s best not to select easy-search security questions like “Where were you born?” or answers like “Pizza.” What’s your best defense against identity theft? No, it isn’t credit monitoring, it’s a security freeze.

News Release | ConnPIRG | Consumer Protection

ConnPIRG Hails General Assembly’s Passage of First-in-the-Nation Student Loan Bill of Rights, Open Source Pilot Program

In the last 36 hours of the legislative session, the General Assembly passed two ConnPIRG-backed pieces of legislation designed to make college more affordable. The Student Loan Bill of Rights will make Connecticut the first state in the nation to establish a student loan ombudsman to regulate student loan servicers and assist student borrowers and parents. The Open Source Textbook bill will establish a pilot program on the use of open-source textbooks, which can dramatically reduce the cost of course materials, at the University of Connecticut in collaboration with the Board of Regents of Higher Education.

How Companies Turn Your Facebook Activity Into a Credit Score

This story in The Nation explains our work challenging the way data brokers use "black box," or secret, algorithms to make scoring decisions that may violate the law and deny credit opportunities. This work was also the subject of our recent livestream event featuring Professor Frank Pasquale and his new book, "The Black Box Society." We've now posted an archive of that event, in 3 chapters on our Youtube page.

Event 5/11 re new book on black box decisionmaking & consumers

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Consumer Program Director

UPDATED TO CONFIRM CFPB Speaker. We are hosting an event Monday, 5/11, from 9am-noon ET to discuss a new book, The Black Box Society, with author Frank Pasquale. Click Keep Reading to RSVP to attend in person or to watch the livestream. While credit bureaus have long functioned as black box gatekeepers to opportunity, panelists will discuss the growing use of more and more, even less transparent black boxes to categorize consumers in the digital economy.

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