Postings

CFPB urged to reverse earned wage actions that could create dangerous FinTech payday loopholes
A coalition of 96 consumer, labor, civil rights, legal services, faith, community and financial organizations and academics is urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to revoke or significantly revise two actions taken in late 2020 regarding earned wage access (EWA) products. The group argued that the CFPB’s EWA advisory opinion and PayActiv approval order, which declared that certain EWA programs are not deemed “credit,” threaten to create loopholes in federal credit and fair lending laws and are being misused to promote FinTech exemptions in state laws that regulate predatory payday lending products.

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.

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.

A call for President Biden to end Big Pharma monopolies
Coalition members wrote to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra demanding that the White House take on Big Pharma in an effort to curb drugmakers’ monopoly power in the soon-to-be-released HHS drug pricing competition plan. Advocates called on President Biden to end the era of abusive drug pricing and treatment rationing by challenging patents and expanding generic-drug competition. As Americans face a new surge in the ongoing pandemic, there is no better time than now to break up Big Pharma monopolies.

Expanding access to homeownership for consumers with limited English proficiency
One in five U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, yet the financial services market still caters primarily to fluent English speakers. In a letter to Congress, coalition members wrote in support of the LEP Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act and the bill to promote language access in mortgage servicing. LEP borrowers face many challenges that impede their full participation in the consumer marketplace, including, specifically, their ability to obtain and preserve ownership of a home. Together, these bills will make important strides in improving access to the mortgage market and awareness of the availability of assistance for homeowners who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, which is especially critical during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The FTC and CFPB must do more to prevent mass homelessness during the pandemic
Over 11 million families are at risk of losing housing. Protection from evictions and foreclosures is greatly needed due to the ongoing economic crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of household income in the near and long term. Consumer Action joined advocates in urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to work together to prohibit unfair debt collections and ensure financial and regulatory agencies confirm industry standards regarding forbearance availability for homeowners. Without these additional protections, many will lose their homes and be forced to move at a time when COVID-19 levels are still extremely high and vaccination access for many is still months away. As a result, the financial impact of COVID would result in substantially greater risk of spreading illness.

Over 100 groups call on Federal Reserve to Strengthen CRA
More than 100 national and local civil rights, fair lending and consumer rights organizations have urged the Federal Reserve Board to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a key anti-redlining and civil rights law. In detailed comments that addressed issues from access to credit, location of bank branches and investments in underserved communities, the groups laid out a plan for the Biden Administration to leverage CRA to ensure an equitable recovery from the ongoing economic, racial justice and public health crisis.

The pandemic’s impact on the digital divide: Low-income Americans need help now
The pandemic didn't create the digital divide, but it has certainly exacerbated it. Consumer Action and National Consumers League wrote to the Federal Communications Commission to applaud its efforts to bring broadband internet connection to low-income households during the COVID-19 pandemic through the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, and its efforts to expand the Lifeline program to reach more low-income households. Today, Lifeline recipients can use a modest $9.25 monthly subsidy to connect to phone and/or internet services, yet only 1-in-4 eligible households enrolls in the program. As Americans continue to work, attend school, and conduct healthcare appointments online during the pandemic, it is critical that everyone has access to broadband internet.

Key DOT aviation committee lacks consumer representation
Coalition members wrote to the U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, and urged him to appoint a new slate of members to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee (ACPAC) that genuinely represent key stakeholders in the travel marketplace to address issues like family seating, an air travelers bill of rights and airfare transparency. In its current state, ACPAC is skewed to preserve the interests of the airline industry over consumers. The ACPAC is supposed to be a forum to bring consumer interests and concerns to the DOT, however, it does not adequately address issues of concern to the traveling public due to its lack of meaningful consumer representation.

Immediate action needed to help keep families in their homes
As millions of Americans face continued hardship from the COVID-19 pandemic, advocates wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to urge the Bureau to keep individuals and families in their homes. Advocates recommended specific steps the Bureau can take to help borrowers avoid foreclosure, including homeowners without federally-backed mortgages. They asked that the CFPB focus on implementing quick policies during this current crisis, rather than embarking on a larger disaster-related rulemaking, leaving time to analyze best practices and measure how well the policies adopted during this crisis worked to save homes.

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