Keep Our Consumer Cop On The Financial Beat

People should be able to save for retirement, get a credit card, invest or manage their money without fear of being trapped, tricked or ripped off by the institutions they’ve trusted with their financial future.

U.S. PIRG Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski (right) works with Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray to create stronger safeguards for consumers in the financial marketplace.

That’s why we need strong consumer protections on Wall Street. The 2008 economic collapse made it even more clear that Americans need a watchdog agency devoted to creating and enforcing fair, clear and transparent rules to protect consumers in the financial marketplace. So in 2010, U.S. PIRG, working with then-Prof. Elizabeth Warren, helped create the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to do just that.

For five years, the Consumer Bureau has been our cop on the financial beat, and it’s been a huge success, returning nearly $12 billion to more than 29 million consumers wronged by companies that have broken the law.

It’s held big banks like Wells Fargo accountable for signing millions of customers up for fraudulent accounts without their knowledge. It’s fined some of the big credit reporting agencies for selling inflated credit scores. And it’s helped level the financial playing field, educating veteranssenior citizensnew homeownerscollege students, and low-income consumers on how to keep their finances secure.

The Consumer Bureau’s success should be earning it applause in Washington. The idea that consumers deserve protection against fraud and other misleading practices shouldn’t be controversial.

Yet instead of cheering on the Consumer Bureau, the Trump administration and some members of Congress are pushing to get rid of it or weaken it.

We can keep our consumer cop on the financial beat — but only if we can convince enough senators to stand up and be counted as Consumer Champions. It’s going to take at least 41 Consumer Champions in the Senate to stop any bills to rein in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau — which, unfortunately, is no small feat in today’s Senate.

In the wake of the Great Recession, we helped spearhead the creation of the Consumer Bureau. Now, U.S. PIRG is standing up for consumer protection on Wall Street once again, and defending the CFPB from those who would weaken or eliminate it.

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