Postings

Advocates tell Santander: stop racial profiling in auto lending
Advocates called on Santander Consumer USA Holdings Inc., a Dallas-based auto lender, to end its practice of allowing car dealers to add interest to a vehicle loan unrelated to the borrower’s creditworthiness.

Last-ditch effort to prevent auto lending discrimination fails
Consumer Action and its allies wrote to Congress on April 16 to plead that it not interfere with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s efforts to prevent auto loan discrimination. The Bureau’s “guidance” to car lenders sought to end a common discriminatory practice to charge some borrowers more in interest and fees, regardless of their creditworthiness (“dealer mark-ups”). Even though these discriminatory violations still occur, the Senate on April 18 moved to eliminate the 2013 guidance document, allowing the practice to continue. These discretionary auto dealer mark-ups result, in some cases, in African Americans and Latinos paying more than similarly situated white borrowers.

Personal data of 50M Facebook users wrongly harvested for use in 2016 election
Consumer and privacy advocates expressed outrage at the news that Facebook shared the personal user information of 50 million with a data-mining firm that later when on to work for President Trump’s 2016 campaign. Consumer Action joined privacy and consumer advocates in a March 20 letter urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate whether the social media giant may have violated a landmark privacy consent decree from 2011, stating that it would not change access to Facebook users’ data without users’ consent.

Advocates alarmed as HUD considers dropping key mission
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), responsible for stopping housing discrimination, proposed new language in its mission statement that seemed to encourage consumer “self-sufficiency” over strict enforcement. The move alarmed civil rights, consumer, and fair housing advocates, who worry that the government agency expressly responsible for combating housing discrimination would deemphasize the importance of its mandate under the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The groups joined in a March 8 letter to HUD Secretary Ben Carson asking him to correct this “unfortunate impression.” (It’s been reported that Carson subsequently responded in a HUD memo, saying: “The notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense.”)

Protect employees by ending forced arbitration in the workplace
Consumer Action joined advocates in calling on the leaders of the tech industry’s biggest companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, to remove forced arbitration provisions in employee contracts and take the first steps toward creating a harassment- and discrimination-free environment. While forced arbitration provisions are now common in many types of consumer contracts, forcing an employee into arbitration is equally harmful because of its ability to silence systemic wrongdoing in the workplace.

Congress to gut key provision of Americans with Disabilities Act
The Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is a landmark piece of bipartisan legislation that affirms and protects the civil rights of disabled people. A new bill, The ADA Education and Reform Act (H.R. 620), introduced by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), would make it harder for people with disabilities to hold businesses accountable for inaccessibility. The proposed legislation was recently adopted in the House Judiciary Committee and specifically takes on a section of the ADA that gives disabled people the right to sue public businesses (including restaurants, hotels, and movie theaters) that don’t comply with the ADA’s accessibility requirements.

Bill would set back consumer rights in debt collection
Advocates wrote to the House Financial Services Committee to oppose a bill (HR 4550) that would exempt attorneys and law firms engaged in litigation from the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).

Groups strongly reject any loss of legal rights for consumer, small businesses
Advocates struck back at the concept that lawsuit abuse harms small businesses and job creators—pointing out instead that this tact almost always steals the right to justice away from consumers.

Forests bill tramples access to justice
Under the guise of improving forest management, a deceptive piece of legislation actually attack on everyday citizens’ ability to enforce the law. Consumer Action joined legal and environmental groups in a letter opposing HR 2936.

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