Postings

Protecting democracy from a lawless president
For decades, as the executive branch has increased its power, Congress has increasingly struggled to fulfil its constitutional duties to protect the rule of law by holding presidents accountable for overreaches and preventing abuses of presidential power. Advocates joined together to support the Protecting Our Democracy Act (HR 8363 and S 4880) in an effort to push for necessary institutional reforms to protect our democracy and restore Congress’s ability to check and balance the executive branch, without infringing on the president’s constitutional powers.

Requiring SSN collection by peer-to-peer payment services puts consumers at risk
Consumer rights groups sent a letter to Senators Ron Wyden and Mike Crapo of the Senate Finance Committee regarding a proposal under consideration in the budget reconciliation bill that would require peer-to-peer payment apps such as Square Cash and Venmo to collect Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TINs) for virtually all payee accounts. Because, unlike businesses, most individuals do not hold a separate TIN from their Social Security number, these companies will be collecting the SSNs of millions of Americans, potentially putting their privacy and financial health at risk.

HUD to tackle systemic racism and housing discrimination
Advocates joined together to support the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) decision to reinstate its Discriminatory Effects Standard, which ensures that housing practices that appear neutral in their design do not create or perpetuate discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion and other characteristics protected under the Fair Housing Act. During the Trump administration, HUD gutted this critical civil rights protection and made it nearly impossible to seek redress for fair housing violations that had discriminatory effects. HUD’s announcement today ensures that strong protections against discriminatory housing practices are clear and remain the law of the land.

Protect retirement savers from risky private equity investments
Consumer Action joined allies in a letter to the Department of Labor asking the department to ensure that “defined contribution plan fiduciaries”—those responsible for ensuring that employer-based retirement plans feature safe and appropriate investments—undertake balanced consideration of the benefits and risks before they allow private equity funds to be offered to retirees.

The new California privacy agency should prioritize consumers’ privacy
The recently-passed California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) augments and supplements California’s existing privacy law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). It also creates a new supervisory authority for data protection and privacy in California — the California Privacy Protection Agency. Privacy advocates wrote to Governor Gavin Newsom urging him to select members to the new agency who have demonstrated experience working on behalf of consumers and a commitment to civil rights and ending discriminatory business practices.

Studies show systemic racism in insurance industry
Consumer Action joined a coalition of consumer and community activists in submitting comments to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Special Committee on Race and Insurance urging them to focus efforts on creating tools to help states and insurers identify and combat systemic racism in insurance. Studies over many years have shown elements of racism in pricing, placement of agents, redlining and other aspects of insurance. But systemic racism is not found in just a few elements of insurance; it casts its shadow across all aspects of insurance and needs to be confronted in a systematic and holistic manner.

Allies urge CFPB Director not to weaken its enforcement arm
A coalition of more than 80 consumer and civil rights groups urged the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) Director Kathy Kraninger to "abandon" her "October Surprise" proposed reorganization. Instead of strengthening the arm of the CFPB that holds predatory financial institutions accountable, the proposal would drastically weaken its authority, independence, and ultimately, effectiveness, leaving consumers vulnerable and defenseless during an already financially stressful time.

The Department of Transportation fails to address consumers’ pandemic concerns
In a letter sent to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, consumer groups expressed their deep frustration that the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee is ignoring the most pressing airline passenger complaints and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter notes that many Americans are concerned about the risk of contracting the coronavirus while flying, and that a record 50,000 consumers filed complaints with the DOT about the airlines’ refusal to provide refunds for canceled flights during the crisis. Neither topic was addressed at the most recent Committee meeting, which was only the second such meeting since the Committee was reconstituted in the fall of 2018.

Advocates call foul as CFPB hides consumer complaint narratives from public view
Consumer Action joined nearly three dozen consumer, civil rights, community, housing, and privacy groups in urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to reconsider its decision to bury the narratives of consumer complaints, making it much harder for non-experts to find this essential material in its consumer complaint database. Access to the complaint narratives helps to educate and empower consumers to make wise financial decisions and meets the Bureau’s mandate to inform and protect consumers. Public access to this critical information also helps to hold companies accountable for their behavior in the financial marketplace.

More than 100 non-profit groups support bill that would require corporations to disclose important data to address potential profit shifting
A coalition of more than 100 non-profit groups called on Reps. Waters and McHenry to consider country-by-country reporting in the Disclosure of Tax Havens and Offshoring Act (H.R. 5933). The bill would require large, publicly-traded corporations to disclose key financial information (e.g. profits, revenues, taxes, number of employees, etc.) on a country-by-country basis to better inform taxpayers, investors, policymakers, academics, and other stakeholders and ensure that we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic on the path to sustainable and equitable economy.

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