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.
The CFPB: A champion for student loan borrowers too
Since 2012, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has continually defended student loan borrowers against some of the biggest players in the for-profit college and student loan industries. While fraud and mismanagement issues run rampant in student lending, the CFPB has worked hard to protect veterans, students and their families against some of the biggest offenders, including Sallie Mae, Navient, Corinthian and Bridgepoint Education.
Mnuchin unfit to serve as Treasury Secretary--Senate should oppose nomination
88 advocacy groups signed a letter to the Senate voicing grave concerns about President Trump’s nominee for Treasury Secretary, former Goldman Sachs partner and OneWest Bank Chairman, Steve Mnuchin. Mnuchin, known as “The Foreclosure King,” oversaw the eviction of nearly 50,000 families from their homes during the foreclosure crisis. The bank’s aggressive foreclosure practices targeted the country’s vulnerable populations—particularly the elderly and widowed. By approving his nomination, the Senate is putting its stamp of approval on his alarming record and choosing to rig the rules for the wealthy rather than protect American families.
Hands off the CFPB!
Advocates penned a very clear response to Delaware’s Senator Tom Carper’s stated interest in exploring changes to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) structure: “Back off!” The CFPB has been wildly successful at protecting American consumers and weakening the agency’s oversight would be a grave mistake. The only reason to do so would be to favor the banking and financial industries that jeopardized the world economy and devastated American families less than a decade ago.
The 'Foreclosure King' is an unfit choice to run the U.S. Treasury
President-Elect Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin, is unfit to serve in one of government’s most important positions. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner and hedge fund operator who has never held public office before, earned the nickname the “Foreclusre King” due to unethical practices he oversaw during the housing crisis while owner of OneWest Bank. Over the past decade, this country has seen the disastrous economic results of policies that permit the wealthiest and most powerful institutions and individuals in our society to engage in predatory financial practices that devastate ordinary American families. Government cannot afford to cater to the wealthiest special interests and the Senate should oppose a nominee with Mnuchin’s record.
Innovation should not come at the expense of consumer protection
More than 250 groups sent a letter today to Comptroller of the Currency Thomas J. Curry urging him not to grant national charters to financial technology firms, which could pre-empt state oversight and state consumer protection laws that protect consumers and small businesses from abusive financial practices. The letter sends a strong message to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency about the risk it creates to state-level protections against predatory lending.
Five senators should recuse themselves from confirming Education nominee
Five U.S. senators on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee received hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions from President-elect Trump’s nominee for Sec. of Education, Betsy DeVos. As a body entrusted with vetting this nominee and examining her views on public policy, the Senate must uphold the strongest ethical standards throughout the nomination process. These generous contributions present an egregious conflict of interest and we demand these recipients recuse themselves from voting on her confirmation as U.S. Secretary of Education.
Preventing FinTech from avoiding regulation and preying on consumers
In a letter to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Consumer Action joined consumer, civil rights, small business, and other community organizations to express strong opposition to new federal nonbank lending charters that would enable financial technology companies (also known as “fintech”) to avoid state consumer protection laws and state oversight, putting consumers and small businesses at risk.
ED’s complaint database a useful tool for students, but improvements could be made
President Obama’s Student Aid Bill of Rights directed the Education Department to implement an efficient and responsive complaint system to increase both accountability and transparency in higher education. Launched to the public last summer, the database serves as a useful tool for students and whistleblowers that holds colleges, loan servicers and collectors accountable, and prevents waste, fraud, and abuse of taxpayer dollars. However, advocates are pushing for system improvements to be made before the end of the year. These changes include making complaints public; seamlessly coordinating government agencies that manage complaint databases; and holding contractors accountable when the complainant is not satisfied with the resolution.
Stand up for low-income students by protecting Pell Grant funds
Consumer Action joined a group of 33 higher education groups and civil rights organizations in calling on Congress to restore year-round Pell Grants, increase the maximum Pell award amount and extend inflation adjustments. Millions of low-income students can receive up to $5,815 annually in Pell funding and advocates argue the money is vital in making higher education affordable and preventing students from being forced to take out pricey loans to pay for their degrees. In 2011 the Obama administration reached a bipartisan agreement to cut year-round Pell grants in response to funding shortfalls. However, advocates argue that the current Pell surplus provides a unique opportunity to reinvest in the program.
Green loans may cause homeowners to see red
PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) loans are a special kind of financing sponsored by local governments and used to pay for energy-efficiency improvements, such as solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and windows. The Department of Energy (DOE) provides best practice guidelines for homeowners, but these guidelines don’t adequately educate property owners of the loans’ drawbacks. In a letter to the DOE, Consumer Action joined advocates in urging the agency to better alert consumers of the serious risks associated with taking out the seemingly appealing loans.