Consumer Action INSIDER - September 2023


What people are saying

"As a financial literacy educator and trainer within my organization, the information presented in the Consumer Action webinars, website and social media offer a great resource to further my knowledge and those that we serve. They provide the information in a clear and easy to understand manner that is key when discussing financial information for consumers." Monica Anderson, CAPSLO, San Luis Obispo, CA (view our webinars and videos on our YouTube channel, and follow us on Facebook)

Please take our survey!

By Monica Steinisch

Consumer Action is conducting a survey about consumers' knowledge of and experiences with smartphone and computer warranties. The survey is part of a project on consumer warranty awareness, accessibility and satisfaction, which is made possible by a grant from the Rose Foundation. We’ll be using the findings of the survey to inform the educational work we do as part of the project.

We would like your input! (The survey should take about 5 minutes to complete.) 

We designed this survey to determine whether buyers of smartphones and computers are aware that their new devices come with a manufacturer’s warranty; feel that the warranty information is easy to find online; find it easy to understand what is and isn’t covered under the warranty; are satisfied with the coverage; and know how to file a warranty claim and/or complaint. 

This is an anonymous survey. No specific personal information that could be used to identify those who respond, or their computers, will be collected. 

Since we would like to get responses from as broad a population as possible, we would appreciate it if you would share the link to our survey——with family, friends, neighbors or colleagues you think would like to weigh in. 

Note: You may have already received an email message about the survey. If you have already responded, thank you!

Look for news of the survey findings and other work related to this project in future issues of the INSIDER.

Coalition Efforts

By Monica Steinisch

Consumer Action and its allies recently called on policymakers and regulators about these important issues:

Safeguards for PACE borrowers. Consumer action joined a coalition of advocates, led by Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund, in comments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regarding the agency’s proposed rule on residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing—used by homeowners to pay for energy efficient upgrades. The organizations asked the CFPB to finalize the rule swiftly so that consumers can be protected. They also urged the agency to take measures when assessing other emerging green lending products to minimize the types of public harm and negative consequences that resulted from the problematic design of and predatory practices associated with PACE financing. Residential PACE loan products have often been pushed onto consumers through predatory and fraudulent sales practices, binding consumers to unsustainable loans that they cannot repay. Paired with the problematic structure of PACE loans, which involves superpriority liens being placed on consumers’ homes, the program has resulted in many consumers, particularly those from underserved communities, losing their homes through foreclosure. This proposed rule on PACE financing is an opportunity to prevent future harms to consumers. Read the letter here.

Protections for tenants in properties with GSE-backed mortgages. In comments to the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Homes Guarantee Campaign, along with 317 local, state and national organizations, including Consumer Action, urged the agency to use its authority as regulator and conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—government-sponsored enterprises (GSE) that purchase loans from lenders—to implement tenant protections that would impact an estimated 8 million rental units with GSE-backed mortgages. Among the recommended measures: imposing annual rent-increase caps, instituting good cause eviction protections, requiring landlords to respect tenants’ rights to organize, banning source-of-income discrimination, and creating an office of tenant protections with enforcement power. By incorporating these and the coalition’s other recommended tenant protections as a condition of financing from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the FHFA can move us toward a housing system that truly promotes affordability and racial justice. Read the letter here.

Big Pharma’s efforts to maintain unfair drug prices. More than 70 groups and 150,000 individuals demanded that Big Pharma executives, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other chambers of commerce drop their “unconscionable” lawsuits attempting to limit drug price negotiations under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed into law last year. The IRA includes commonsense reforms to lower prices and expand access to medicines for millions of Medicare beneficiaries, including empowering Medicare to negotiate lower prices directly with prescription drug corporations. Currently, despite being the largest purchaser of prescription drugs in the world, Medicare pays significantly higher prices than those paid in other countries. And drug corporations routinely charge patients in the United States twice or more of what they charge patients in other large, wealthy countries—even in cases where U.S. taxpayers supported the drug’s development. Read the letter here. (On Aug. 29, the White House announced the 10 drugs that will be the target of Medicare’s first-ever price negotiations. Read about it here.)

CFPB Watch

By Ruth Susswein

The White House convened consumer and privacy advocates and policymakers in August to discuss how data brokers track and sell our most sensitive information, including health data and our locations—usually without our knowledge or consent.

Participants shared stories about how such personal information is used and abused by landlords, employers, financial institutions and others. Consumers have been rejected for rental housing and denied loans and insurance coverage based on data that is often inaccurate, outdated, or simply too easy to access. Unfortunately, Congress has not passed a comprehensive national data protection law that prohibits the sale of consumers’ personal information. 

However, at the White House Roundtable on Data Protection, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Rohit Chopra announced that the Consumer Bureau is drafting rules that would limit the sale of certain sensitive data. The CFPB plans to apply stricter criteria to the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), which sets accuracy standards, provides the right to dispute errors, and puts limits on how our personal data can be used. 

Director Chopra said that the CFPB is developing rules that would redefine which companies must comply with the FCRA and, therefore, treat sensitive data, such as consumers’ payment history, income and criminal records, as information that must be accurate, correctable, and restricted to only those with a legally permissible need to know. Data brokers would likely be required to follow FCRA rules for the first time.

The CPFB also plans to limit the disclosure of key personally identifiable information, such as a consumer’s name, date of birth and Social Security number (called “credit header” information), on a credit report. 

The CFPB has been collecting information about how data brokers track, collect and monetize consumers’ personal data for the last six months. We’ve asked you to send your stories to the Bureau to help them decide how best to oversee this industry and help protect our personal information.

Consumer Action and other advocates participated in the White House data protection gathering, along with leaders of the National Economic Council, the FTC, the CFPB, the Department of Justice, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Proposals for the CFPB’s new data protection rule are expected to be announced this month, with the rule being released in 2024.

Wrongful repos and other injustices

Thousands of auto loan borrowers had their cars automatically disabled and wrongly repossessed by their loan servicer, USASF Servicing, according to the CFPB. 

The Bureau is suing USASF for illegally deactivating cars with kill switches and for playing in-auto warning tones tens of thousands of times when the consumer was not in default or was already in communication with the servicer about payment. In some cases, cars were sold after being wrongly repossessed.

The CFPB is also suing the Georgia-based loan servicer for allegedly double-billing consumers for collateral-protection insurance and then misapplying the extra payments, and for failing to refund Guaranteed Asset Protection (GAP) premiums that borrowers were entitled to. (GAP insurance covers the gap between the amount owed on a car loan and the amount insurance will pay if the vehicle is damaged, stolen or totaled.)

USASF serviced car loans that were sold and financed by U.S. Auto Sales, Inc., a buy-here-pay-here auto dealer with more than 30 dealerships in the Southeast. (The company closed—at least temporarily—all of its dealership locations in April.)

The Bureau is seeking refunds for consumers, fines for the servicer, and a permanent halt to these unfair practices.

Do you have a disaster plan?

Given the barrage of wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods that Americans have been recovering from, the CFPB has created tools to help you prepare your finances before disaster strikes. Plus, see their resources on recovery for homeowners and renters.

Class Action Database: Putting a foot down on shoe retailer’s illegal texts

By Monica Steinisch

Among recent settlements added to the Consumer Action Class Action Database is the settlement Delta Air Lines agreed to in a case alleging that the company breached its contract with ticketholders by refusing to refund tickets for flights cancelled due to COVID-19. If you requested a refund for your cancelled Delta flight scheduled to depart between March 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, but you only received a credit for future travel, and you had all or part of that credit remaining as of Jan. 13, 2023, you may be eligible for a payment. The deadline for claims is Sept. 15, 2023. Delta is not the only airline being held to account for unrefunded flights cancelled due to COVID; similar cases were settled by Lufthansa and Turkish Airlines earlier this year.

Of note is the settlement that Genesco, Inc.—better known by its dba of Journeys—agreed to in a case alleging that the shoe retailer violated the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) when it continued to send unsolicited marketing text messages to consumers who had already sent a “stop” message or other opt-out request. If you received such a text message from Journeys between Dec. 21, 2017, and May 9, 2023, you may be eligible for payment. The deadline for claims is Sept. 21, 2023.

Over the years, Consumer Action’s Class Action Database has included numerous settlements in cases involving companies that have run afoul of the TCPA, the primary federal law governing telephone solicitations and marketing. In particular, the TCPA restricts telemarketing calls (and texts) and the use of automated dialing systems and artificial or prerecorded messages (robocalls). Consumer Action works in coalition with other advocacy organizations to defend and strengthen the TCPA.

About Consumer Action

Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial and consumer literacy and advocating for consumer rights both in the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.

Consumer education. To empower consumers to assert their rights in the marketplace, Consumer Action provides a range of educational resources. The organization’s extensive library of free publications offers in-depth information on many topics related to personal money management, housing, insurance and privacy. At, visitors have instant access to important consumer news, downloadable materials, an online “help desk,” the Take Action advocacy database, and more. Our in-language media outreach allows us to share scam alerts and other timely consumer news with a wide non-English-speaking audience.

Community outreach. With a special focus on serving low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of more than 6,500 community-based organizations. Outreach services include in-person and web-based training and dissemination of financial and consumer education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Consumer Action’s network is the largest and most diverse of its kind.

Advocacy. Consumer Action is deeply committed to ensuring that underrepresented consumers are represented in the national media and in front of lawmakers. The organization promotes pro-consumer policy, regulation and legislation by taking positions on dozens of bills at the state and national levels and submitting comments and testimony on a host of consumer protection issues. Additionally, its diverse staff provides the media with expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data and victim testimony.



Quick Menu

Facebook FTwitter T