Washington, D.C. – In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, the Consumer Federation of America has identified ten specific actions that President Trump can take to fulfill his promise to elevate the lives of the average American family. The President promised to take the side of the hard working American over corporate cronyism and Wall Street abuses. “Fulfilling campaign promises is not always easy, however President Trump, has 10 immediate opportunities to make his promises a reality,” said Jack Gillis, CFA’s Director of Public Affairs.
- Side with members of the military, students, and seniors over the special interests. While Wall Street lobbyists are salivating at the thought of running free of regulations, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has returned $12 billion to consumers in refunds and fines that financial companies have paid back due to financial crimes related to mortgages, credit cards, student loans, and other products. The agency’s specific units that protect service members, students, and seniors have been successful in fending off financial abuse. They provide the President with the tools he needs to keep his promise to clean up Wall Street and turn the tables in favor of Main Street Americans. Contact: Rohit Chopra
- Make Privacy Protection a Priority. More and more Americans are concerned about their personal privacy and the security of their financial information. In fact, these concerns are discouraging many Americans from shopping online, using the internet to find information about health or other sensitive issues, downloading apps, and engaging in online activities that can help make their lives easier and save them time and money. By putting consumers in the driver’s seat when it comes to use of their personal data, the President can insure that corporations can’t invade our homes, pocketbooks, purchase habits or personal preferences and activities. The President can ensure that our information is just that, our information—private, secure and in our control. Contact: Susan Grant
- Reduce the Pain at the Pump. Even at today’s lower gas prices, buying the gasoline needed for getting to work, shopping, and family transport takes one of the biggest bites out of a family’s budget. Maintaining reasonable and achievable fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks will save consumers money—dollars that will go to other needed services and goods, boosting the economy. It’s a win, win, win, as consumers, car companies, and workers benefit. The only losers are the foreign oil importers. Consumers have consistently and overwhelmingly supported strong standards that they know will protect them against the volatility of gas prices. Gas prices will go up again. Contact: Jack Gillis
- Require Financial Advice for Retirement to be in the Consumer’s Best Interest. Many times the President has stated that the needs of Main Street Americans must be put ahead of Wall Street corporations. For the first time, a simple new standard now requires all financial advisors to put the needs of their customers first when providing retirement investment advice. Exactly what the President promised—taking care of the forgotten American—those hard working Americans who depend on high-quality, unbiased advice for their retirement savings. Providing sound, fiduciary, financial advice on their retirement nest egg has never been more important to American savers. Contact: Barbara Roper/Micah Hauptman
- Protect Our Food Supply. The President can protect our historical right to safe food. By protecting consumers from unsafe food, consumers will buy more and have increased confidence in the millions of U.S. companies who supply our grocery stores and restaurants. When foodborne illness breaks out in popular foods like peanut butter and spinach, or at popular restaurant chains, we lose confidence in the companies whose strength is needed to bring back our economic stability. The bipartisan Food Safety Modernization Act has improved food safety, but state and federal agencies need the resources necessary to enforce the law against importers and food producers who violate those laws. Contact: Thomas Gremillion
- Make Auto Insurance Work For All. The Federal Insurance Office (FIO) reports that 18 million Americans live in ZIP Codes where state-required auto insurance is unaffordable. Without insurance, good driving, financially struggling Americans have a terrible choice: either drive illegally or give up their car. The lack of a car leads to lower-paying jobs, less involvement in children’s schools and poor shopping options. The FIO has the authority to develop insurance solutions for underserved Americans in auto, home and life insurance so that the states, themselves, can help inner city and other underserved communities. Efficient, fairly priced insurance is something that all American’s deserve a right to and will go a long way to addressing the President’s stated concerns about America’s inner cities. Contact: Bob Hunter
- Give Consumers Legal Choices. Forcing consumers to use industry-sponsored arbitration when they have a problem with a product or service is simply un-American. Consumers are unwittingly signing more and more contracts for needed goods and services that insure corporate control over their personal freedom to take legal recourse. Forced arbitration clauses, which are proliferating in contracts for essential consumer services such as cell phones, credit cards, car loans, child care, health insurance, and nursing homes, are very unfair. They rob Americans of the critically important freedom of choice when it comes to seeking justice when they are wronged. These clauses foster the bad corporate behavior the President opposed by locking consumers into private arbitration systems financed by the very companies whose conduct is at issue. President Trump needs to continue to oppose this kind of corporate Big Brotherism. Contact: Rachel Weintraub
- Foster State Retirement Savings Plans. Currently, more than half of workers don’t have access to a retirement savings plan at work. President Trump should preserve rules that encourage states to experiment with new programs that allow workers to save for retirement through workplace payroll deductions. Helping people build their private savings so they can be secure and self-reliant is something we should all be able to agree on. Contact: Barbara Roper/Micah Hauptman
- Expose Hidden Fees the Hurt Traveling Americans. Hiding airline fees simply isn’t fair. Americans, who trust that buying an airline ticket for family vacations, family obligations, work and other travel needs, believe that the posted price will be the cost of their trip. When the airlines then add on fees for baggage, itinerary changes, or cancelations that are unreasonable and disproportional to their actual cost, consumers have no choice but to pay. The President should urge the Department of Transportation to make airline fees fully transparent. American’s have the right to a free marketplace that discloses the full price of travel before they spend their long-saved travel dollars on a needed or special trip. The President can protect the fundamental rights of Americans to know the full cost of airline travel before they book their tickets. Contact: Susan Grant/Jack Gillis
- Give Consumers the Information They Need to Make Smart Choices. The government can and should make critical information collected at taxpayer expense available to all Americans. For example, SaferProducts.gov is an online database where consumers, government agencies, public safety officials, health care professionals, and child service providers can report potentially dangerous products and search reports that others have submitted. gov is growing, easy to use, and provides helpful information to the consumers thereby insuring a free, fair and safe marketplace. SaferProducts.gov empowers consumers who can then vote for safer, better performing products with their hard earned dollars. Preserving and strengthened this service will help identify great American products and put the “bad apples” on notice. SaferProducts.gov provides true choice for American consumers. Contact: Rachel Weintraub
Consumer Protections are Marketplace Protections
Clearly, the President supports the importance of a free and healthy marketplace. Leveling the playing field for consumers will dramatically improve market functions. Consumers expect that our food and products will be safe, that our financial markets will be fair, that our privacy will be protected and that our pocketbook savings will increase. These rights, critically important to the average American family, are under attack by Washington lobbyists and Wall Street behemoths. Because the “forgotten American family” cannot compete with these lobbyists and financial powerhouses, their wellbeing depends upon basic and reasonable consumer protections. And these same protections, keep the many, many U.S. companies who play by the rules from being taken advantage of by the few “bad apples” that take advantage of vulnerable Americans.
The Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 non-profit consumer groups that, since 1968, has sought to advance the consumer interest through research, education, and advocacy.