FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE See Contacts Below
May 7, 2018
Consumer Advocates from Around the Nation to Meet with Congress to Urge Stronger Consumer Financial Protections on May 9
Washington, D.C. – More than 110 consumer advocates from 36 states around the nation are heading to Capitol Hill on Wednesday, May 9 to meet with their members of Congress for the second annual Consumer Lobby Day and to urge stronger consumer financial protections for ordinary families living in their towns and cities. Of particular concern are efforts to weaken the effectiveness of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and threats to protections against high-cost predatory payday loans that put families in a debt trap.
“At Consumer Lobby Day, consumer advocates from across the country speak in a united voice to their elected officials about the importance of strong consumer financial protections for working families,” said Steve Brobeck, Consumer Federation of America’s Executive Director.
The advocates will engage with their U.S. Senators and Representatives on the following issues:
Preserving the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Payday Lending Rule: Advocates will urge their representatives to oppose blocking or revisiting the CFPB rule that limits the cycle of debt caused by short-term payday loans that charge up to 391 percent annual interest. The rule requires lenders to assess whether the borrower can repay the loan based on their income and expenses and permits no more than 6 loans a year or 120 days of debt without an ability-to-repay assessment. Yet this commonsense rule is under attack in Congress and Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney has said that the CFPB will revisit the rule.
Opposing Measures that Undermine State Interest Rate Caps and Working Toward a National Interest-Rate Cap for all Americans: High-cost predatory lending remains a problem around the nation. Many states limit interest on small dollar loans to 36 percent or less. But bills in Congress would make it easier for payday lenders to evade state interest rate limits and would also encourage banks to resume making high-cost bank payday loans. Advocates will urge their members of Congress to support a national 36 percent rate limit.
Maintaining a Strong Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Advocates will also press Congress to maintain a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and a permanent director committed to the bureau’s mission. Acting Director Mulvaney has taken or threatened a number of measures that weaken the bureau’s ability to fulfill its mandate from Congress and hold corporations accountable for breaking the law or other harmful financial wrongdoing. Advocates will also oppose bills that would weaken the powers and independence of the agency.
The effort is being coordinated by the Consumer Federation of America and is co-sponsored by Americans for Financial Reform, Consumer Action, Consumers Union, The Institute for College Access & Success, National Association of Consumer Advocates, National Consumer Law Center, National Consumers League, Public Citizen, and U.S. PIRG.
Americans for Financial Reform
“We will continue to demand the Consumer Bureau and Congress protect consumers rather than kowtowing to the agenda of wealthy donors who want to rollback payday lending protections,” said José Alcoff, Payday Campaign Manager at Americans for Financial Reform. “Our coalition of hundreds of organizations representing millions of consumers from every state will fight hard to make Washington fight for the 99%, and we will hold them accountable when they throw their constituents under the bus so they can push the agenda of loan sharks and Wall Street.”
“Consumers will not stand idly by and watch Congress, and the temporary management at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, take a wrecking ball to our consumer protections,” said Linda Sherry, Consumer Action’s Director of National Priorities. “Advocates from across the nation are here to send a clear message to our representatives on Capitol Hill that consumers will be watching who in Congress stands with financial predators and who stands up for consumers.”
“Consumer protections are under assault in Washington at a time when working families face a variety of predatory financial practices that can do real damage to their wallets,” said Pamela Banks, Senior Policy Counsel for Consumers Union, the advocacy division of Consumer Reports. “We need strong safeguards to protect consumers and vigorous oversight and enforcement by the CFPB to stop financial scams and rip-offs.”
National Association of Consumer Advocates
“Federal laws that grant American consumers certain rights and remedies when they are cheated or ripped off by corporate wrongdoers have been under relentless attack in Washington. Activists from all over the country will visit their lawmakers to describe the harmful impact of rolling back consumer protections in their communities, and will tell Congress, ‘no more,’ said Christine Hines, Legislative Director, National Association of Consumer Advocates.
National Consumer Law Center
“Advocates from around the country are united in telling Congress to oppose efforts to weaken state interest rate caps, which are strongly supported by voters of both parties and are the best protection against predatory lending,” said Lauren Saunders, Associate Director of the National Consumer Law Center.
National Consumers League:
“The lobbyists for big banks and predatory lenders have been working overtime to try to legalize lending tactics long associated with trapping consumers in inescapable cycles of debt,” said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League. “This week members of Congress will get to hear from their own constituents, about how protecting the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s common sense rules is the right thing to do. Today is about reminding members of Congress that these protections touch the lives of their constituents, and that they should be working to further protect consumers, not to unravel protections, and undermine the structure of consumer protection institutions like the CFPB.”
“Members of Congress sometimes lose their way when shaping financial law given the distraction of shiny coins from ubiquitous Wall Street lobbyists. Citizens will be here in person with a compass to put them back on track,” said Lisa Gilbert, vice president of legislative affairs for Public Citizen.
The State PIRGs
“Consumer advocates from sea to shining sea — 36 states in all — are converging on Congress for this Lobby Day to bring the same message: Keep the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — and all of our consumer protections strong,” said Janet Domenitz, MASSPIRG Director (and CFA president).
Michael Best, Director of Advocacy Outreach, Consumer Federation of America, 202-939-1009
Chris Peterson, Director of Financial Services, Consumer Federation of America, 202-387-6121 x1020
José Alcoff, 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, Consumers Union, 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
Consumer Federation of America is an association of more than 250 nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education.
Americans for Financial Reform is a nonpartisan and nonprofit coalition of more than 200 civil rights, consumer, labor, business, investor, faith-based, and civic and community groups. Formed in the wake of the 2008 crisis, we are working to lay the foundation for a strong, stable, and ethical financial system – one that serves the economy and the nation as a whole.
Consumer Action has been a champion of underrepresented consumers nationwide since 1971. A non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, Consumer Action focuses on consumer education that empowers low- and moderate-income and limited-English-speaking consumers to financially prosper. It also advocates for consumers in the media and before lawmakers to advance consumer rights and promote industry-wide change.
Consumers Union is the public policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports. Consumers Union works for health reform, food and product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace. Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website, and other publications.
The National Association of Consumer Advocates (NACA) is a nonprofit association whose members are private and public sector attorneys, legal services attorneys, law professors, and law students committed to representing consumers’ interests. NACA is actively engaged in promoting a fair and open marketplace that forcefully protects the rights of consumers, particularly those of modest means.
Since 1969, the nonprofit National Consumer Law Center® (NCLC®) has worked for consumer justice and economic security for low-income and other disadvantaged people, including older adults, in the U.S. through its expertise in policy analysis and advocacy, publications, litigation, expert witness services, and training. www.nclc.org
The National Consumers League, founded in 1899, is America’s pioneer consumer organization. Our mission is to protect and promote social and economic justice for consumers and workers in the United States and abroad. For more information, visit www.nclnet.org.
Public Citizen is a national non-profit organization with more than 400,000 members and supporters. We represent the public interest through lobbying, litigation, administrative advocacy, research and public education on a broad range of issues including consumer rights in the marketplace, product safety, worker rights, workplace safety, financial regulation, safe and affordable health care, campaign finance reform and government ethics, fair trade, climate change and corporate and government accountability. Learn more at citizen.org.
U.S. PIRG serves as the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups. PIRGs are non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organizations that take on powerful special interests on behalf of their members.