Coalition EffortsConsumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see "More Information" at the end of each article.
Table of Contents
New guidelines for banks selling old consumer debt to debt collectors
Banks have come under increasing public and regulatory scrutiny for the central role they play in perpetuating unfair, deceptive, and abusive debt collection practices, which pervade the debt collections industry. Banks’ most harmful practices include selling debts without adequate documentation, setting the stage for rampant abuse by collectors. In a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), consumer advocates praised the agency's move toward stronger debt collection regulations that will ultimately protect thousands of consumers.
Homeowners could see an increase in fees if mortgage rule is weakened
S. 1577—the “Mortgage Choice Act of 2013” reintroduces some of the higher fees borrowers faced in the lead up to the mortgage crisis; fees that the new mortgage rules were designed to prevent. Specifically, this bill creates a loophole that would allow many more risky, high-cost loans to qualify as Qualified Mortgage (QM) loans by creating exceptions to the points and fees threshold. Consumer Action joins advocates in urging Congress to refrain from weakening the QM standard by rejecting this bill.
Gauging attitudes about forced arbitration
The use of forced arbitration clauses continues to undermine consumer protection. Used by big banks and corporations, consumers are often unaware they are agreeing not to take their cases to court or join class actions when they sign phone contracts, open a checking account or "like" a company on Facebook. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will conduct a survey credit card holders to see what consumers know and how they feel about signing away their legal rights in return for being a customer.
Does CarMax sell dangerous cars to consumers?
Consumer Action joined 10 organizations in asking the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate auto retail giant, CarMax over claims that its advertisements are deceptive because CarMax does not fix used vehicles under recall before it sells them. CarMax, the nation’s largest used-car retailer, runs ads promising that the vehicles it sells have undergone rigorous quality inspections.
“Choking” banks that don’t respond to the threat of consumer fraud
The Department of Justice (DoJ) responds to the proliferation of financial fraud by cutting off access to banks and payment processing companies that enable wrongdoers to debit victims' bank accounts and move money around. Its Operation Choke Point helps eliminate unlawful activity like senior fraud, payday loan fraud, bogus debt relief services and other mass-marketing fraud schemes that cause tens of billions of dollars of losses each year from millions of individuals and businesses. Consumer Action joins coalition advocates in urging the Senate to support the DoJ's Operation Choke Point and other efforts that protect consumers and taxpayers from fraud.
Advocates ask for auto insurance affordability study
Consumer Action joined over 30 organizations from around the country in urging the U.S. Treasury Department’s Federal Insurance Office (FIO) to collect data from insurance companies in order to assess the affordability of auto insurance for low- and moderate-income Americans and those living in historically underserved communities. Advocates want to know what discounts, if any, are extended these customers and who qualifies for the programs.
Protect students and taxpayers from being ripped off
According to the Department of Education (DoE), an astonishing 72 percent of the for-profit college programs subject to the regulation produced graduates who on average earned less than high school dropouts. Of all the federal financial aid recipients enrolled at the lowest performing programs, 98% are at for-profit colleges. The taxpayer abuse and funding of worthless credentials needs to end! Consumer Action and coalition advocates urge the DoE and Congress to strengthen the federal gainful employment law, which requires career education programs — at public, nonprofit, and for-profit colleges — to prepare students for career in a recognized occupation.
In support of the CFPB: standing up in favor of more transparent banking
In response to the 11 proposals and bills that were designed to harass and undermine the authority of the Consumer Protection Bureau (CFPB), coalition advocates urged Congress to stop obstructing reasonable regulation that serves to protect consumers and the financial industry from another financial crisis. While the bills before the committee are an attempt to portray the CFPB as a too-powerful agency that threatens consumer freedom and privacy, it is clear that the CFPB is getting results for consumers and making markets work better.
Privatizing tax collection wastes taxpayer money, and that’s not the only problem
Coalition advocates oppose language in the EXPIRE Act of 2014 that requires the use of private collection companies to collect taxes on a commission basis. The use of private debt collectors harms taxpayers by exposing them to potential abuses that are unfortunately common within the student loan industry. It will also disproportionately impact low-income taxpayers. Paying private collectors is a waste of taxpayer dollars, lining the pockets of private companies at the expense of the U.S. Treasury.
Strengthening mortgage reform protections
Consumer Action joined coalition advocates in supporting Sen. Brown's amendment to the Housing Finance bill (Johnson-Crapo) that would require servicers to disclose any new fees, the loan's default status and whether a loan modification application has been submitted prior to transferring servicing duties to a new mortgage servicer.
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