Arizona residents head to Congress to fight for sensible financial protections for consumers

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Staff Attorney
Media Director

Congress considering legislation that guts the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau 

May 10, 2017

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Randall Stankewicz and Luz Lopez, both of Phoenix, are joining over 100 other consumers and advocates today from 36 states across the country on Wednesday, May 10, to urge lawmakers in Congress to oppose efforts to weaken the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  Stankewicz and Lopez will be meeting with Representatives Kyrsten Sinema and David Schweikert and Senator Jeff Flake.  Senator Flake is considered a potentially critical vote on the future of the CFPB.

Stankewicz and Lopez are travelling to Washington, D.C. to participate in Consumer Lobby Day, organized by the Consumer Federation of America and co-sponsored by other groups, including Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization division of Consumer Reports.  The lobbying effort is taking place as Congress gets ready to vote on legislation that would severely limit the ability of the CFPB to protect consumers from unfair and abusive financial practices.

Stankewicz turned to the CFPB after his mortgage company started unnecessarily charging him for insurance when the value of his home rose.  He tried to get the extra charge removed because it was affecting his finances, but he had no success after making several calls and sending letters to his bank. That’s when he filed a complaint with the CFPB.

“The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau investigated the insurance charge and was able to get it removed,” said Stankewicz.  “I’m grateful to have the CFPB in my corner working to protect consumer finances and rein in unfair bank fees.”

Lupe Lopez is single and disabled and living on social security benefits.  From time to time, she’s had to take out a payday loan or go to a pawnbroker to make ends meet.  But she’s found it challenging to pay off the loans because of the high interest rates and because of hidden fees that add to her debt.

“Some of these companies take advantage of everyday people like me who are just trying to get by,” said Lopez.  “I’m glad the CFPB looks out for consumers by working to end these predatory practices.” The CFPB has proposed rules to protect consumers from drowning in debt from payday loans and other forms of high cost credit, but those safeguards are now under attack in Congress.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote on a bill in mid-May that would eliminate the CFPB’s authority to supervise banks, credit reporting agencies, and payday lenders.  Under the bill, the CFPB would lose its ability to stop unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.  The bill blocks the CFPB’s authority to conduct financial education campaigns and would do away with its public complaint database.

If the bill is approved, the CFPB’s director could be fired at will by the President, unlike other banking regulators, and the agency’s budget would be subject to the congressional appropriations process, opening it up to further attack by financial industry lobbyists determined to shrink its budget.

“The CFPB works tirelessly to make sure consumers are treated fairly and protected from financial fraud and rip-offs that can drain their wallets,” said Christina Tetrault, staff attorney for Consumers Union.   “The CHOICE Act is the wrong choice for consumers because it guts the CFPB and would leave consumers vulnerable to scams, hidden fees, and costly financial gotchas.”

The CFPB was established as part of the measures passed by Congress in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.  The Bureau works to ensure consumers are treated fairly by establishing basic standards that banks and other financial companies must follow and by policing abuses in the marketplace. Since the CFPB opened its doors in 2011, it has won almost $12 billion in refunds and relief for an estimated 29 million Americans who’ve been defrauded by financial companies.