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
Mortgage Choice Act of 2014 protects lenders - leaves homebuyers out in the cold
The Mortgage Choice Act of 2014 (H.R. 3211) contains certain provisions that would both increase fees for homebuyers and provide additional legal protections for lenders who make riskier loans. The passage of this bill may deter consumers seeking to purchase a home or refinance their current mortgage. As the housing market continues to recover, Consumer Action joins consumer advocates in urging Congress to oppose H.R. 3211 in order to protect basic, existing, consumer safeguards.
CFPB’s complaint database - more can be done to help student loan borrowers
Consumer Action joined student loan advocates in supporting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)'s public consumer complaint database. While the database provides consumers with empowering details regarding financial institutions, more can be done to improve and expand the database so it better captures student loan complaints. With student loan servicing complaints rising, student borrowers have a lot to gain by sharing public details of issues they've encountered. These improvements will help students and their families successfully manage and repay their student loans and strengthen the CFPB’s and other regulators’ ability to monitor the student loan industry and enforce the law.
Details of consumers’ complaints regarding the financial industry should be public
Consumer advocates wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) in favor of publishing consumers' complaint narratives regarding the banking, credit and loan industries. Public complaint details empower consumers to make better financial decisions, prevents problems and improves the functioning, transparency, and efficiency of markets. However, leaders from the financial industry do not agree and fear their reputations will be hurt if complaint details are made publicly available.
The Dept. of Labor has the chance to protect Americans hoping to retire one day
Millions of hardworking Americans who have spent years saving for retirement are receiving financial guidance from professional advisers who are not obligated to act in the best interest of their clients, (called a fiduciary duty), resulting in a huge drain on retirement savings for many workers and retirees. Those advisers are often permitted to recommend investments that come with high fees, poor returns, and even substantial risks because they have no fiduciary duty to their clients. This behavior will continue unless the U.S. Department of Labor completes its work updating the 40-year old fiduciary duty rule that regulates those who advise retirement plans and plan participants.
Mobile banking: Convenient, but is it safe?
In response to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's request for information on mobile banking services, Consumer Action and other privacy advocates highlighted issues of concern that should be addressed in light of these emerging financial services. Federal regulators can help both consumers and the mobile banking industry by establishing strong minimum standards that protect consumers' finances and privacy. The industry should welcome thoughtful regulation to help bring consumer protections into the modern world to protect emerging payment systems.
Ban remotely created checks and check hold times for prepaid cards
In light of the once-in-a-decade review of all insured-banking related regulations, (the 1996 Economic Growth and Regulatory Paperwork Reduction Act), consumer advocates submitted a letter to the Federal Reserve Board asking the Board to closely monitor the payment processing procedures and compliance safeguards currently in place. Advocates also reminded regulators that consumer protection should be their first priority during the review, citing banking regulations that did not protect consumers as the main cause of the global economic crisis of 2008.
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.
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