Washington, D.C. – More than 120 consumer advocates from 29 states around the nation are heading to Capitol Hill today to meet with their members of Congress for the third annual Consumer Lobby Day and to urge stronger consumer financial protections for ordinary families living in their towns and cities. Advocates will be speaking to their representatives about predatory lending, forced arbitration clauses, and the need for a strong CFPB to enforce the rules of the road.
The advocates will engage with their U.S. Senators and Representatives on the following issues:
Holding the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau accountable for delivering on its mission: Under recent leadership, the Bureau has failed to effectively fulfill its core mission, has taken actions that seek to reduce burden on industry at the expense of consumers, and has neglected to enforce the law. The CFPB’s overall enforcement activity is down by 80% from the Bureau’s peak productivity in 2015 and average monetary relief to victims is down by 96% per case. The CFPB must return to its critical role of holding lawbreakers accountable.
Congress should also oppose any proposal—either from the Director or Congress—to compromise the CFPB’s independence. Prior to 2018, the CFPB effectively worked for consumers. The agency has a high level of accountability which should be used to ensure that it focuses on its mandate to protect consumers.
Fixing the CFPB’s proposed debt collection rule that opens consumers up to harassment and abuse. The 538-page rule:
- Allows too many telephone calls. Collectors could make up to seven attempted calls per debt per week, potentially all in the same day. A student with 8 loans could receive 56 calls per week. The CFPB should limit collectors to one conversation and three attempts per week per consumer.
- Allows texts and emails without consent. Collectors would not have to get consumer consent to send emails or text messages and would not have to comply with the E-Sign Act to ensure that consumers actually have internet access. Collectors should be required to obtain consent to send electronic communications and to comply with the E-Sign Act before sending key notices electronically.
- Permits violations of consumer privacy. Debt collectors could leave “limited content” messages on voicemails that may not be private or with a person who answers the phone, including at a work number. The CFPB should not exempt any forms of communication from the FDCPA and must require collectors to respect privacy in all communications.
- Fails to prevent abusive collection of time-barred zombie debt. Collectors could pressure consumer to pay old debts that are beyond the legal statute of limitations to sue, potentially opening the consumer up to lawsuits by reviving the debt. The CFPB is testing disclosures, but any disclosures will only encourage abusive collection of these ancient debts. The CFPB should ban the collection of time-barred debt, which is so old that collectors cannot legally sue, records are lost, and the debt cannot be collected without mistakes or deception.
Opposing all forms of predatory lending and the CFPB’s proposal to roll back payday protections. High cost payday loans and car title loans trap consumers in cycles of debt.
The CFPB has proposed to do away with the core requirement of its 2017 rule that requires lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to repay. The proposed rollbacks would prevent protections against debt traps from taking effect later this year.
Adopting a national usury limit, and opposing attempts by high cost lenders to circumvent state rate caps. The Military Lending Act set a 36% rate cap for a variety of lending products, including payday loans. All Americans could benefit from this common-sense cap, paving the way for affordable loans that consumers can repay.
Passing the Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal Act (the FAIR Act) to eliminate forced arbitration in contracts: Congress should restore the rights of harmed and wronged consumers, workers, and small businesses to seek justice against corporate misconduct. Forced arbitration clauses are in contracts for products and services such as credit cards, child care, cell phones, car loans, home construction, student loans, payday loans, health insurance policies, and nursing homes.
The effort is being coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America and is co-sponsored by Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Action, Consumer Reports, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.
Leandra English Director of Financial Services Advocacy and Outreach, Consumer Federation of America, 202-939-1009
Carter Dougherty, Campaign Manager, Americans for Financial Reform, 202-466-4282
Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities, Consumer Action, 202-544-3088
Ruth Susswein, Deputy Director of National Priorities, Consumer Action 301-718-2511
Michael McCauley, Media Director, Consumer Reports, 415-902-9537
Christine Hines, Legislative Director, National Association of Consumer Advocates, 202-452-1989 x109
Jan Kruse, Director of Communications, National Consumer Law Center, 617-542-8010
Carol McKay, Vice President of Communications, National Consumers League, 412-945-3242
Susan Harley, Deputy Director, Public Citizen, 202-546-4996
Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG Director, The State PIRGS, 617-292-4800