Blog Posts By:

Ed Mierzwinski,
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Public health experts have made it abundantly clear that to safely lift stay-at-home rules we must have four key things we don’t yet have. We need fast, accurate and widely available testing. We need a better plan for isolating and supporting people who have COVID-19. We need sufficient hospital capacity, including medical and protective equipment, to treat all patients safely. And we need more contact tracing. This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

A major article in today's New York Times, "Overdraft Practices Continue to Gut Bank Accounts and Haunt Customers," points out that while 2010 reforms put in place by the pre-CFPB regulators have helped, there's still work to be done to protect consumers from unfair overdraft practices. While years ago banks used "bounced check" fees to deter what was then seen as a negative behavior, more recently they have encouraged overdrafts by offering "standard overdraft protection" as if it is a feature, not a bug. They've made billions.

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.

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.

We joined the CFPB in Richmond Thursday for a field hearing on a proposed rule to regulate payday lending and similar high-cost short-term loans. The CFPB's draft rule is comprehensive, covering a variety of loans, but it contains potential loopholes that we and other advocates will urge the bureau to close before it finalizes this important effort. Here's a short blog with some photos from Richmond.

Today, the CFPB took a step to make its excellent public database of consumer complaints even better, by adding complaint narratives (stories), but only with the consumer's consent. It's a step we've long urged. It will enrich our research into the marketplace, help consumers make choices and help good-actor firms avoid bad practices by others.

UPDATED (9 Feb.) Retail store data breaches make a mess, but an easy one to clean up and the few consumers who become fraud victims are quickly made whole. The Anthem hackers, on the other hand, reportedly obtained a mother lode of information that could be used to commit a variety of serious frauds, including obtaining your tax refund. Read our tips here. Here's the first: Don't click on any emails claiming to be from Anthem; some may be malicious.

Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued nine administrative orders seeking information to analyze the "Data Broker Industry’s Collection and Use of Consumer Data." The questions being asked track closely the questions posed both in a forthcoming U.S. PIRG/Center for Digital Democracy law review article and in similar information requests from the Bi-Partisan Congressional Privacy Caucus.

The industry trade press is all a-flutter with demands that when CFPB Deputy Director Raj Date leaves, that be replaced with what they characterize as "another" bank-friendly regulator when he leaves. Raj Date wasn't selected as CFPB special advisor and then deputy director because he had a banking background; he was selected because his additional consumer background made him qualified to become director.

Americans for Financial Reform and other leading groups slammed a proposed new FTC Used Car Rule for failing to protect consumers and ignoring advice of advocates and state attorneys general. Meanwhile, in case you missed it, find out why an alleged financial fraudster was featured on the New York Times baseball page and read other financial follies of the week.