Can America Keep Up with Changing Housing Needs?

CFA’s 2018 Financial Services Conference featured a Nov 30 plenary panel discussion titled “Can America Keep Up with Rising Housing Needs?”  Our guest blogger Alanna McCargo, Vice President of the Urban Institute’s Housing Finance Policy Center, moderated the panel and prepared this summary.  Copies of the panel presenters’ slides can be found here.  One of the … Continued

False Trade-Offs for Privacy

The article originally appeared in The Hill. A recent survey from the Center for Data Innovation, a DC think tank, purportedly shows that Americans’ strong support for reducing the amount of personal information that is collected about them online drops significantly when they’re asked to consider certain trade-offs. We’ve seen these claims before, and it’s … Continued

CFAnews Update – January 17, 2019

Rollback of Fuel Economy Standards Will Ravage Low-Income Consumer Budgets As the Trump Administration continues to consider a rollback of federal fuel economy standards, CFA released an analysis last month showing that a rollback would hurt low-income consumers the most, forcing them to pay more for gas and leaving less for family and household essentials. … Continued

Free Credit Monitoring for Active Duty Military Members

Under a law that Congress passed last year, members of the military who are on active duty have the right to ask credit reporting agencies for free electronic credit monitoring services. A popular feature of many fee-based identity theft services, credit monitoring alerts people when there are changes to their credit reports such as new … Continued

Fintech Innovation: Dreams Come True, or New Nightmares, for Financial Consumers?

Could fintech innovation be the best thing that ever happened for financial consumers? Or will it make their lives worse? Or maybe… some of both? These were the questions we dug into at CFA’s Financial Services Conference in Washington on November 30. I was delighted to moderate a panel with Lauren Saunders, Associate Director of … Continued

Retailers Step Up Game Against Scammers

This past holiday season, millions of consumers bought gift cards for friends and family. They’re the perfect presents – no need to worry about whether they’ll fit or if they’re the right thing because, just as with cash, the recipients can use them to buy exactly what they want. But just as with cash, once … Continued

CFAnews Update – December 19, 2018

OCC Appears Poised to Weaken CRA Compliance Test Changes to Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations suggested by a recent Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) from the Office of Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) could reduce effective community investment by regulated lenders, CFA wrote in a comment letter last month. CFA is among a number … Continued

CFAnews Update – December 10, 2018

CFPB Allows Predatory Lenders to Target the Nation’s Military Personnel The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), under Acting Director Mick Mulvaney, announced last month that it plans to end supervisory examinations for violations of the Military Lending Act (MLA), which is designed to protect military service members and their families from predatory lending. The CFPB … Continued

Tracking Every Step You Take

This week seven European consumer organizations filed complaints with their national Data Protection Authorities against Google, asking them to investigate whether the company’s Android smartphones are tracking users’ locations in violation of the new privacy law that took effect in Europe last May. Based on a research report, Every Step You Take, by the Norwegian … Continued

OCC Must Take a Multi-Faceted Approach to Community Reinvestment Act Enforcement

The Community Reinvestment Act has served since 1977 as a critical part of a broad national policy to promote the participation of private capital in serving America’s communities and consumers.  The Act was prompted in large part by widespread evidence of private lender discrimination in lending patterns.  Following the first Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) … Continued

CFAnews Update – October 31, 2018

ZIP Code-Based Auto Insurance Rates Hurt Minority and Lower Income Consumers Many good drivers are paying far too much for auto insurance simply because of their home ZIP code, according to a new CFA report, which found significant premium differences among neighbors living within 100 yards of each other in adjacent ZIP codes, sometimes as … Continued

CFAnews Update – October 16, 2018

Public Interest Groups Urge Opposition to the “GRATER Act” Public interest groups are calling on the House Oversight and Financial Services Committees to oppose H.R. 5381, the “GRATER Act,” which would require federal agencies to transfer all credit and guarantee risk assumed by the government to the private sector, to the maximum extent possible. In … Continued

New Twists and Five Lessons from the CFA Consumer Complaint Survey

Every year when we survey state and local consumer agencies about the complaints they receive, some things come up time after time, but there are always new twists. For instance, auto sales and service usually top the list of most common complaints, but this year’s complaint survey was the first time that I had heard … Continued

CFAnews Update – September 24, 2018

SEC’s Proposed Disclosure Form Confuses, Misleads Investors Investors are confused – and may even be misled – by disclosures proposed by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to help investors choose an investment professional, according to independent testing conducted by Kleimann Communications Group on behalf of AARP, Consumer Federation of America (CFA), and the Financial … Continued

Free Trials That Aren’t Free

You’ve seen them advertised online and on television: enticing offers for a “free trial” on new or unusual products such as skin creams, herbal supplements, computer software, and exercise programs. But these offers often have hidden terms that kick in once your free trial is up and cost much more than you imagined. Remember: if … Continued

Take Advantage of Your New Right to Freeze Your Credit Files for Free

If you’re concerned about identity theft (and these days, who isn’t?), there is good news. As of September 21, 2018, you have the right to ask the consumer reporting agencies that operate on a nationwide basis to freeze your credit files and lift the freeze, whenever you want, at no charge. “Security freezes” make it … Continued

Protect Your Identity

According to its last Consumer Sentinel report, the Federal Trade Commission received 371,061 identity theft complaints in 2017, down from 399,222 the previous year.  That’s good news, but the 2018 Identity Fraud Study issued by Javelin Strategy & Research tells a darker tale.  Based on a random survey of Americans, it revealed that there was … Continued

CFAnews Update – September 19, 2018

CPSC Urged to Enhance Recall Effectiveness Consumer and product safety organizations are calling on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to adopt a number of proposals to enhance recall effectiveness and to encourage consumers to remove dangerous products from their homes. In comments submitted to the CPSC earlier this month, CFA, Public Citizen, Kids … Continued

A Quick Guide to Managing Your Money and Avoiding Debt Trouble

If you have lots of debt, you’re not alone. Many Americans are struggling to keep up with their student loans, credit card debt, car loans, utility bills, and rent or mortgage payments. Unexpected expenses such as hospital bills or car repairs can make the situation even more stressful. Sometimes even when people try their best … Continued

Things to Consider Before Going Solar

The solar panel industry is growing rapidly and it’s pretty clear why. Who can resist the promise of saving money while also helping the planet? Unfortunately, not everyone comes away from the deal happy. Here are some things that you should consider when deciding whether solar panels are the right choice for your home. Lease … Continued

New House Mortgage Reform Bill: Federal Guarantee, No Affordable Housing Requirements

House Financial Services Committee Chair Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) released a section by section summary of yet another mortgage finance reform bill on September 6, 2018.  He was joined by Reps. John Delaney (D-MD) and Jim Himes (D-NY) as cosponsors. The drop marks Hensarling’s final surrender to the inevitable endorsement of a full faith and credit guarantee for … Continued

Phone Sense

How can you safely use your phone and protect yourself from unwittingly becoming the victim of a scam or identity theft, or even just an unscrupulous business? Keep your contact list updated so you know who is trying to reach you. Scammers use technology known as “spoofing” to impersonate calls with your local area code … Continued

Trusting a Car Dealer to Pay Off Your Loan Can Be a Risky Business

Thinking about trading in a car that you still owe money on? Think very carefully, because buying a car when you haven’t paid off the loan on your current vehicle can put you in serious financial jeopardy. Even if a dealership agrees in writing to pay off your existing loan, there is no guarantee that it will. It … Continued