Consumer Action INSIDER - January 2022

What people are saying

The friendliest and most critical watchdog in town. —DMS, Carson City, NV, via Consumer Action feedback survey

Did you know?

Keeping your COVID vaccine record handy is important, especially when you travel. Some states, including California, Colorado, Hawaii, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York, Utah, Washington and Virginia, offer SMART Health Cards that can be added to your mobile device. Residents of those states can visit a verifier website to add their credentials directly to wallet apps on iPhones and Android phones. Another option is the CLEAR app, which enables you to upload your vaccine information and create a QR code that links to your vaccination status. However, some people may not like that the CLEAR app requires you to upload your ID and snap a selfie to authenticate your record. Some electronic health records apps (such as MyChart or Cerner HealtheLife) and pharmacies where you got vaccinated also will generate a vaccine record. The most basic method of keeping a vaccine record available electronically is to take a photo of your vaccine card (do not discard the card!) and keep it on your phone in an easily accessible note-taking app or folder. (This New York Times article goes into detail about how to add a vaccine credential to your phone.)

In-person event marks Consumer Action’s 50th anniversary

By Linda Sherry

Consumer Action’s East Coast staffers, board members and committee volunteers were on hand to welcome nearly 100 guests at the organization’s Consumer Excellence Awards reception on Nov. 16 in Washington, D.C. Vaccinated guests happily mingled—many for the first time in nearly two years—at the AT&T Forum for Technology, Entertainment & Policy, near Union Station. AT&T generously donated the space and catered food and drinks for the 50th anniversary celebration. Before entering, attendees were required to reply to screening questions about possible COVID exposure and have their temperature checked.

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio received Consumer Action’s 2021 Legislative award; National CAPACD (Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development), the influential Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) advocacy organization, received our Community award; and the Popcorn Finance Podcast received our Media award.

The most moving part of the evening occurred when 10 Special Recognition awards were presented to some of the nation’s most committed consumer advocates and some of our most dedicated supporters: Jason Alderman, Chancela Al-Mansour, David Balto, Jenny Backus, Maeve Elise Brown, Susan Grant, Ed Mierzwinski, Patricia Sturdevant, Erika Toriz-Kurkjian and Chi Chi Wu (not all of whom could attend in person). To learn why each is so deserving of special recognition, see this article from the November issue of INSIDER.

“Some of our special honorees were so touched to receive recognition for their role in improving the lives of the underserved in their communities and advancing the critically important financial, privacy and consumer rights they passionately fight for,” said Consumer Action’s Ruth Susswein. “We all do this work out of deep-seated conviction and are unaccustomed to being honored for it. Their gratitude for our thanks moved us all.”

Consumer Action Executive Director Ken McEldowney recorded a welcome video to kick off the event, and one of our longtime corporate supporters, Antonio (Tony) Williams, of Comcast, was the emcee. Watch McEldowney’s video on our YouTube channel.

2021 Consumer Excellence Awards

Consumer Action recognized Senator Brown (D-OH) with its 2021 Consumer Excellence Award in the legislative category for his dedication to advocating for consumer protections for workers, healthcare consumers, taxpayers and immigrants. As chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, he has prioritized protecting homeowners and renters from eviction and foreclosure, protecting patients from surprise medical bills, eradicating injustice, and reforming our financial system to work for all Americans. He has also been outspoken on the need for corporate accountability for data privacy. Former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Richard Cordray presented our award to Senator Brown. (Cordray, himself a recipient of Consumer Action’s Consumer Excellence Award, in 2016, is now Federal Student Aid chief at the U.S. Department of Education.) Both men hail from Ohio.

Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) presented Consumer Action’s 2021 Community award to National CAPACD. Rep. Chu spoke highly of the organization’s role in exposing social issues that plague what is often seen as a “model minority” community despite its vast diversity of needs. Seema Agnani, executive director of National CAPACD, accepted the award. Agnani spoke about the special importance of CAPACD’s work in pandemic times, when there has been vitriol and even physical violence perpetrated against Asian Americans, who have been blamed for what former President Donald Trump ill-advisedly called the “China virus.”

Highlighting the importance of financial literacy, Troy Clair, director of public engagement for Instacart and a volunteer on Consumer Action’s Corporate Advisory Board, presented the award in the media category to the Popcorn Finance podcast. Popcorn’s founder, Chris Browning, flew in from his home base in California to accept the award. Clair noted that Popcorn Finance “connects its listeners to experts who provide solid, actionable advice that can help us understand many financial headlines of the day as well as become better spenders, savers and investors.” Browning said that he was “grateful and honored” for the award, which came as a pleasant surprise and a valued recognition of his work.

Not all of the Special Recognition recipients were able to make it to the event in person. Present to accept their certificates were Jason Alderman, David Balto, Jenny Backus, Susan Grant, Erika Toriz-Kurkjian and Chi Chi Wu.

The awards reception and a same-day virtual convening, Consumer Action’s only annual fundraising events, also proved to be a financial success. McEldowney noted that donations “shattered all previous fundraising events by Consumer Action,” raising $311,050.

Hotline Chronicles: Reverse mortgage runaround

By Linda Sherry

A reverse mortgage is a loan that allows older homeowners to convert some of their home equity into cash, which can be distributed in a lump sum, monthly payments or a line of credit. The loan is due and payable on the death of the reverse mortgage holder. While the loans can provide income for older homeowners who lack retirement savings, they tend to leave limited or unpalatable choices for those who inherit the homes.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) says it receives many complaints from consumers who have experienced problems with reverse mortgages. One of the most common reverse mortgage complaints is about difficulty changing the loan terms (for example, refinancing, lowering the interest rate, or adding additional borrowers to the loan in order to extend the loan term). Another regards communicating with loan servicers (companies that bill, collect payments and provide customer service on behalf of lenders). For example, consumers have expressed frustration to the CFPB about slow and inconsistent communications from reverse mortgage loan servicers.

James* from Kentucky wrote to Consumer Action’s hotline to flag the issues he’s had paying off a reverse mortgage on the home he inherited from his late mother. Neither the lender nor the servicer told him about a specific form needed to process the loan and pay it off until very late in the process, and were pointing fingers at each other and at James. The house has undergone three appraisals and James’s credit history was accessed “numerous” times in connection with the loan. Meanwhile, his loan balance “skyrocketed” from $45,000 to $71,000 due to late payments and fees, and the home has gone into foreclosure. He consulted an attorney, who was given “the runaround” as well.

We recommended that James immediately submit his complaint to the CFPB before he loses the home. The CFPB offers to assist with reverse mortgage and mortgage servicer problems. File a complaint online or by calling 855-411-2372. The Bureau will forward your complaint to the company, and says it will work to get you a response within 15 days.

According to the NOLO legal website, reverse mortgage holders can leave their homes to heirs, but the heirs might have trouble keeping the property. NOLO says that those who inherit a home subject to a reverse mortgage have just four options: repay the appraised value and keep the home; sell the home and use the proceeds to repay the reverse mortgage (retaining any residual proceeds); deed the home to the lender; or let the lender foreclose and take the home.

The only reverse mortgage insured by the U.S. government is called a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), and it is only available through a lender approved by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). HUD offers a list of FHA-approved reverse mortgage lenders here.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) notes that reverse mortgages are complex obligations with many issues to consider. HUD recommends that those considering one consult a qualified reverse mortgage counselor—find one near you using HUD’s online directory or by calling the agency at 800-569-4287.

For more information about how reverse mortgages work and what questions to ask before you apply for one, read “Considering a reverse mortgage?,” the CFPB’s guide to reverse mortgages, designed for older consumers and their families.

AARP offers up-to-date news and information about the reverse mortgage marketplace, including advice about the risks involved with taking a reverse mortgage.

*Not this consumer’s real name

Consumer Action works to close the racial wealth gap

By Audrey Perrott

With support from Wells Fargo and Capital One, Consumer Action is scaling its financial technology (FinTech) innovation and education initiatives to directly address the racial wealth gap and improve financial health for consumers of color, as well as for low- and moderate-income (LMI) and other underrepresented consumers. The project will include a matching component to encourage participating consumers to build or rebuild savings and gain momentum.

The global pandemic exposed harsh realities for communities of color and other underrepresented consumers. Most did not have buffers of emergency savings to weather the financial storm that resulted from the crisis, leaving people who were already financially vulnerable exposed to additional potential financial hardships, such as food insecurity, utility shutoffs, eviction and foreclosure, and lack of access to the digital economy and online schooling. As pandemic moratoriums expire and student loan payments resume, Consumer Action is focused on giving consumers tools and resources to help them better manage their finances and reduce their vulnerability to financial shocks.

Over five to seven months, Consumer Action will work with community partners at six sites. Clients of these partner organizations who save $300 will receive a reward to add to their savings. The sites will provide financial coaching or counseling, help clients to develop a spending plan, and assist them in developing a plan to reduce debt.

FinTech tools will be distributed based on the individual needs of the consumers who are participating. Financial coaches/counselors and clients use the FinTech tools together, and coaches/counselors provide instruction and support for their clients throughout. CBO staff and clients also have access to Consumer Action’s library of FinTech resources, designed to introduce consumers to the world of FinTech apps and prepare them to choose and use FinTech tools wisely.

Consumer Action’s network partners will measure participating consumers’ financial health using the Financial Health Network’s Financial Score® Toolkit Survey. We will work with Attune, a developer of tools that enable businesses and organizations to gather and analyze automated financial health data, to enhance our data measurement work and expand the dataset of demographic questions. (The Financial Health Network is Attune’s parent organization.) One thing we hope to learn more about is how gender and disability impact finances.

Communities of color are struggling through the financial fallout of the pandemic more than their white counterparts. By scaling our financial capability and FinTech distribution programs to serve more underrepresented consumers, Consumer Action can leverage technology to fight the persistent inequities that make it more difficult for communities of color achieve financial health.

Crucial standards-setting organizations rely on volunteers; you can help!

By Cleo Stamatos

Did you know that everywhere you turn—at home, school, work, and online—standards play a vital role in our everyday life? From the air we breathe, to the food we eat, to the technologies that support remote learning and work, standardization is at play, ensuring safety, quality and interoperability.

Standards can establish the size, shape or capacity of a product—like lithium-ion batteries, for example. They can specify performance expectations for products or personnel, like the gas and electricity usage of energy-efficient appliances, or how construction inspectors evaluate a building’s safety. They even guide how U.S. manufacturers operate, to ensure that the products they produce and the processes and systems they follow are safe, reliable, efficient, and work effectively together.

These crucial standards are developed by thousands of volunteer experts—along with the invaluable input of volunteer consumers, like you.

Get involved: Weigh in on standards

The strength of standards depends on the active participation of each group affected by them, including consumers. If you work well as part of a committee and have some experience building consensus around an issue, there is a world of opportunity for you to contribute to developing standards—areas in which your expertise could be put to use to benefit not only the standards system, but the general public as well.

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), which coordinates the U.S. standardization system and accredits the procedures of standard-setting organizations (but does itself not develop standards), can help you find the right opportunity to have your voice heard and make an impact. There are a range of ways to get involved, including by:

  • Participating on a specific technical committee or in an activity of an ANSI-accredited standards developer whose work aligns with your interests (click here); and
  • Attending public standards meetings, posted on the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s public calendar, and contributing your insights and expertise to the discussion. (Upcoming meetings include one on safety for virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality technology equipment, on Jan. 6, and one on stability requirements for clothing storage units [to avoid tip-overs], on Jan. 11.)

Most standards groups meet two to four times per year, plus attend any additional task group conference calls or virtual meetings that may be needed. But standards participation is flexible, and your level of involvement is up to you.

If you would like to learn more and are interested in participating in collaborative standards work, contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) at ANSI (cstamatos AT ansi DOT org).

Cleo Stamatos is a longtime supporter of Consumer Action who served as a co-chair of our 50th anniversary event in November. She is ANSI’s consumer and legislative outreach manager.

Webinar guest speakers discuss credit reporting industry findings, flaws

By Nelson Santiago

Consumer Action concluded a year of robust educational programming with its Dec. 7 webinar on what consumer advocates should know about credit reports and scores in a pandemic economy. While their credit rating may not be at top of mind for consumers who are trying to keep their families fed and housed through the COVID-19 crisis, maintaining a good score, monitoring reporting activity and disputing errors is vitally important at a time when households may have taken advantage of deferred payment options (for things like student loans), need to access credit to make ends meet, or be targeted by pandemic-related financial scams.

Our guest speakers—three leading credit experts—presented credit report and credit score basics, shared research findings that point to higher rates of credit file disputes in Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, and discussed problems in the credit reporting system and the need for reform.

Dr. Heather Brown, financial education and impact specialist and Financial Education Exchange (FinEx) program leader at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), explained why credit matters, described how lenders check credit, and outlined steps for building and rebuilding credit. She also invited viewers to join the CFPB FinEx program, through which participants can receive updates on research and tools, engage with other financial practitioners, discuss best practices in a LinkedIn discussion group, and meet CFPB presenters who can work with their organizations. (For more information, visit the CFPB website.)

Dr. Brown’s colleague Dr. Ryan Sandler, senior economist with the CFPB, discussed the agency's recently published report "Disputes on Consumer Credit Reports", which is part of a series of CFPB reports produced using a longitudinal sample of records from one of the three nationwide consumer reporting agencies. Dr. Sandler's report looks at the demographic characteristics of credit report disputers (people who notify a credit reporting agency that information in their report is inaccurate) and the outcomes for accounts with dispute flags. Among his findings: consumers with dispute flags in their credit reports ("disputers") were generally younger than non-disputers (contrary to what might be expected in light of older consumers having more experience with credit); disputers were much more likely to have low credit scores when the disputed account was opened; and dispute flags were significantly more common from consumers residing in majority Black census tracks, and somewhat more likely in majority Hispanic census tracts, compared to consumers residing in majority white census tracts.

Chi Chi Wu, staff attorney with the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC), was the final presenter, and she spoke bluntly about credit bureau abuses. Wu said that, over the years, NCLC has documented a lot of problems with credit bureaus and the credit reporting system (inaccuracies, mixed files, a bias in favor of the creditor in disputes, etc.)—problems that stem, largely, from the fact that consumers are not the credit reporting industry’s customers; creditors and debt collectors are. Yet, Wu points out, credit bureaus have turned these failings into a market opportunity, where they sell our own information back to us in the form of credit monitoring (so that we can check our reports for errors more frequently than should be necessary). Wu went on to speak about other systemic credit reporting issues, including racial disparities in credit scores, inappropriate use of credit reports (such as for employment and, sometimes, even immigration), and how credit scores fundamentally reinforce inequality. Wu also talked about how "buy now, pay later" loans may impact credit, and about several proposals for reforming the credit reporting system.

The webinar was followed by an extended Q&A session, providing even more for viewers to use in their own consumer education and advocacy efforts.

If you missed the webinar, which was produced as part of our COVID-19 Educational Project, with funding from Chase, you can watch it here.

Coalition Efforts: Federal agencies, lawmakers called upon to effect change

By Alegra Howard

Consumer Action and its allies recently called on policymakers and regulators about these important issues:

Feds should halt bank mergers until guidelines are strengthened. Advocates advise that the federal authorities should halt all bank merger approvals until they strengthen the outdated guidelines that govern whether financial institutions can combine, according to a letter delivered by 30 public interest organizations, including Consumer Action. In the letter, advocates outlined the harmful effects—including more evictions, increasing rates of debts in collection, and fewer loans supporting economic development—that bank consolidation has had on consumers and small businesses, especially in communities of color. Learn more.

The FCC and FTC urged to do more to protect consumers’ location data. Consumer Action joined privacy experts and other consumer rights advocates in endorsing a letter from Rep. Katie Porter, Rep. Jamie Raskin, and 42 other House members who are calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to establish stronger rules governing the collection and sale of consumers’ location data. The letter also asks the FCC to reaffirm that location data collected by mobile phone carriers is subject to privacy safeguards, including when a user’s phone is idle. Learn more.

Build Back Better Act crucial to aiding struggling families. Consumer Action joined over 200 national, state and community organizations in thanking the House of Representatives for the momentous gains made in crafting the Build Back Better Act, emphasizing the need to keep the package intact as it makes its way through the Senate and urging swift passage onto signature by President Biden. In passing the historic Build Back Better bill, Congress would tackle some of the most important problems families face by cutting taxes for working and middle-class families, supporting child and elder care, making college more affordable, providing job training, and making the largest investment in battling climate change in our nation’s history. (Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, Build Back Better was stalled in the Senate due to its failure to gain the crucial support of West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin.) Learn more.

Support for FAIR Fees Act to curb outrageous airline charges. Consumer Action joined other consumer advocates and air traveler rights groups in applauding the introduction of the FAIR Fees Act as a way to protect consumers from being nickel-and-dimed by airlines. Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA) and Congressmen Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Jesús “Chuy” García (D-IL) reintroduced the Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees Act, legislation that would prohibit airlines from charging fees, including cancellation, change and bag fees, that are not reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services actually provided. The bill also directs the Department of Transportation to review any other fees charged by airlines. Learn more.

CFPB Watch: The Bureau’s report card on lenders, and an assault on overdraft fees

By Ruth Susswein

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) oversees very large banks, credit unions, mortgage companies, and student loan and payday lenders. Typically, the Bureau quietly examines the companies it supervises, notifies them of any violations it has found, and makes recommendations to resolve the problems, without pursuing legal action.

One way to get a glimpse at what violations the Bureau has detected is to review its semi-annual Supervisory Highlights report. In its latest report, the Bureau unveils the variety of violations its examinations uncovered, including in the areas of:

  • Fair lending: Mortgage lenders were found to have discriminated against African Americans and women by not offering competitive mortgage interest rate discounts to these groups, saying that loan officers did not use pricing exceptions fairly and did not explain lenders’ pricing decisions.
  • Mortgage servicing: The CFPB found that some mortgage servicers improperly charged late and default fees to people who were in forbearance (payment pause) during COVID. Some servicers did not complete home loan modification evaluations within the legal time limit (30 days). Some incorrectly assigned partial loan payments. Other mortgage servicers continued to collect private mortgage insurance (PMI) after it was no longer required.
  • Person-to-person (P2P) digital payments: The CFPB found that some P2P payments were misdirected by the bank (funds were not transferred to the correct account). The Bureau blamed the banks for not conducting “reasonable error investigations” when consumers complained. The lenders only checked to see if the electronic funds transfers were processed, not whether the payments went to the wrong recipient. Currently companies are saying that they are not liable for user error in dispatching “authorized" P2P payments, leaving consumers to bear the brunt of losses.

The Bureau also reported on failures to:

  • Honor stop payment requests in prepaid accounts
  • Refund remittance transfer fees
  • Correctly debit funds to repay payday loans (lender errors resulted in duplicate debits)

The report does not name violators. The Bureau can open investigations or sue a company after assessing these violations.

Overdraft fees still flourish, while one big bank turns off the spigot

At about $35 a pop, banks continue to rely heavily on revenue from overdraft and non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees, according to recent CFPB reports. The agency says that nearly two-thirds of bank fee revenue came from these two sources. Just three banks—JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo—raked in 44% of that revenue.

“Rather than competing on quality service and attractive interest rates, many banks have become hooked on overdraft fees to feed their profit model,” said CFPB Director Rohit Chopra. “We will be taking action to restore meaningful competition to this market.”

Less than 9% of bank customers pay 80% of all overdraft fees, each paying 10 or more overdraft fees per year, according to Bureau research. But it’s not just big banks that profit from these fees. The CFPB found that 93% of small banks and 61% of credit unions have overdraft programs, and while they charge somewhat (13-19%) lower fees than the big banks, they still rely heavily on penalty fee revenue.

Before it was a huge income stream, banks used to offer overdraft (covering an account shortfall) as an infrequent service to customers. But now, CFPB Director Chopra explained, “many large banks [use overdraft] to penalize their own customers based on things outside their control…” (such as the order in which transactions are processed). Chopra says the Bureau plans to scrutinize banks’ dependence on overdraft fees.

On the very day the CFPB publicly slammed overdraft fees, Capital One Bank announced that it was eliminating all overdraft and non-sufficient funds fees (in 2022), but would still cover an overdraft at no charge if you replace the funds within one full business day or link your checking account to a savings or money market account from which funds can be transferred.

Class Action Database: Too many retries by Bank of America

By Rose Chan

A class action settlement involving Tyson Foods (raw chicken) and allegations of antitrust violations was among 11 new settlements added to the Consumer Action Class Action Database during December.

Of note this month is the class action Morris v. Bank of America, N.A.

Plaintiffs filed a class action against Bank of America (BofA) claiming that the bank improperly charged multiple non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees and/or overdraft fees on the same electronic transaction. When there is not enough money available in the account to pay a transaction, BofA charges either a $35 NSF fee if it rejects the transaction or a $35 overdraft fee if it processes the transaction.

The plaintiff tried to make an online bill payment (also known as an ACH—automated clearing house—transaction) of $60 on June 19, 2017, from her BofA checking account to her Citi credit card. Her account did not have enough funds, and BofA charged her a $35 NSF fee. Without notice, BofA again processed the same $60 electronic transaction (a “retry”) three days later, on June 22, and again rejected it for lack of sufficient funds, charging another $35 NSF fee. Then, on June 27, the bank processed the same transaction and, this time, sent the online bill payment through, charging a $35 overdraft fee. As a result, the plaintiff was charged a total of $70 in NSF fees and $35 in overdraft fees for her $60 online bill payment.

Furthermore, plaintiffs alleged that BofA charged NSF fees and/or overdraft fees on transactions between customers’ BofA accounts when the bank should have known the accounts did not have sufficient funds for the transaction.

For example, the plaintiff used funds from her BofA checking account to pay her BofA home equity line of credit (HELOC). Her checking account did not have sufficient funds to make the payment, but BofA ran the transaction and charged her a $35 NSF fee. BofA ran the transaction again the next day and charged another $35 NSF fee. As a result, the plaintiff was charged $70 in NSF fees for an attempted transaction between her BofA accounts.

Plaintiffs claim that the BofA accountholder agreement stated that the bank would collect fees only after new funds are deposited into the account. However, BofA deducted the NSF fees from an already empty account, before new deposits were made.

BofA denied the allegations but agreed to a $75 million settlement to end the lawsuit.

There are three settlement classes. The class period is defined as July 1, 2014, through July 29, 2021. The class members are:

  1. Current and former BofA consumer checking and/or savings accountholders who were charged and not refunded retry NFS or overdraft fees on a single ACH transaction during the class period;
  2. Current and former BofA consumer checking and/or savings accountholders who were charged and not refunded NFS or overdraft fees on an ACH transaction from their checking account to another BofA account during the class period; and
  3. Current and former BofA consumer checking and/or savings accountholders who were charged and not refunded NFS or overdraft fees due to early fee deductions by BofA during the class period.

If the settlement is approved, class members will automatically receive payment or account credit.

The final approval hearing is on Jan. 18, 2022.

About Consumer Action

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Consumer Action is a nonprofit organization that has championed the rights of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. Throughout its history, the organization has dedicated its resources to promoting financial and consumer literacy and advocating for consumer rights both in the media and before lawmakers to promote economic justice for all. With the resources and infrastructure to reach millions of consumers, Consumer Action is one of the most recognized, effective and trusted consumer organizations in the nation.

Consumer education. To empower consumers to assert their rights in the marketplace, Consumer Action provides a range of educational resources. The organization’s extensive library of free publications offers in-depth information on many topics related to personal money management, housing, insurance and privacy, while its hotline provides non-legal advice and referrals. At Consumer-Action.org, visitors have instant access to important consumer news, downloadable materials, an online “help desk,” the Take Action advocacy database, and more. Consumer Action also publishes unbiased surveys of financial and consumer services that expose excessive prices and anti-consumer practices to help consumers make informed buying choices and elicit change from big business. Our in-language media outreach allows us to share scam alerts and other timely consumer news with a wide non-English-speaking audience.

Community outreach. With a special focus on serving low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers, Consumer Action maintains strong ties to a national network of more than 6,500 community-based organizations. Outreach services include in-person and web-based training and bulk mailings of financial and consumer education materials in many languages, including English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese. Consumer Action’s network is the largest and most diverse of its kind.

Advocacy. Consumer Action is deeply committed to ensuring that underrepresented consumers are represented in the national media and in front of lawmakers. The organization promotes pro-consumer policy, regulation and legislation by taking positions on dozens of bills at the state and national levels and submitting comments and testimony on a host of consumer protection issues. Additionally, its diverse staff provides the media with expert commentary on key consumer issues supported by solid data and victim testimony.

 

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