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Financial protections called for on World Consumer Rights Day

New report by Consumers International urges G20 to support consumer access to stable financial markets

Monday, March 14, 2011

Consumers Union joins consumer groups across the globe
to call for stronger consumer financial protections
on World Consumer Rights Day – March 15

New report by Consumers International urges G20
to support consumer access to stable, fair and competitive financial markets

WASHINGTON, D.C. — March 15 is World Consumer Rights Day, an annual celebration among consumer groups across the globe. It marks the date in 1962 when President John F. Kennedy proposed a set of principles for consumer rights during a historic address to Congress.

In observation of World Consumer Rights Day this year, Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports, is joining with consumer groups worldwide to call on the G20 nations to strengthen consumer financial protection.

Consumers Union is a member of Consumers International, which represents 220 consumer organizations in 115 countries, providing an independent and authoritative voice for consumers.

Consumers International members are issuing a new report on World Consumer Rights Day to call for:

• A new international organization to support work on financial consumer protection
• Mandatory financial consumer protection bodies to investigate and stop violations of consumer protection laws
• Requirements for clearer financial contracts, charges and practices
• Effective redress and dispute resolution
• Measures to promote stability and safety of consumers’ deposits and investments
• Greater competition among financial services.
• Better disclosure and design of information about financial products
• Universal access to basic financial services

Copies of the report will be sent to G20 leaders, the Financial Stability Board, the OECD and the World Bank.

According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, U.S. consumers have identified the need for many of the same recommendations made by Consumers International to support global consumer access to stable, fair and competitive financial markets. When asked to list their top priorities for the nation’s newly-created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 55 percent cited the need to police and enforce against unfair and deceptive practices. 40 percent wanted more transparency in financial disclosures. 30 percent cited effective complaint resolution for consumers who have problems, and 15 percent wanted government to ensure that protections are extended to cover new and developing financial products.

Jim Guest, the president and CEO of Consumers Union, serves as Vice President of Consumers International.

Guest said, “The collapse of the U.S. subprime mortgage market in 2008 was the starting point for the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression. At its heart, this crisis started with a failure of financial consumer protection. These recommendations by Consumers International represent a major step towards preventing another catastrophe. Weak consumer protection in financial services is an unnecessary risk with disastrous consequences we cannot afford to repeat.”

For more information about Consumers International and World Consumer Rights Day, visit http://www.consumersinternational.org.