Save the Watchdog

What's at Stake
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), launched in 2011, has returned almost $12 billion in refunds and relief to more than 29 million consumers victimized by unlawful and fraudulent financial services. At a time when our government is marred by gridlock, these results are eye-popping.

The CFPB is tasked with uncovering and stopping unfair, deceptive, and abusive financial practices and keeping the rules that govern credit cards, loans, bank accounts, and other financial services up-to-date. To accomplish that job, the CFPB was created as an independent agency to ensure that it could avoid pressure and capture by the financial industries whose practices it was charged with overseeing.

But Congress is now threatening to cripple the CFPB, and the consumer protections that go with it. Lawmakers are considering bills that would strip the watchdog of most of its authority and enforcement powers, as well as its independence from political and corporate influence.

Consumers Union, the policy and mobilization arm of CR, was actively involved in lobbying for the creation of the CFPB and has been a leading advocate for the agency since its establishment in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis. We are now working hard to oppose these baseless take-down efforts.

In May, we joined with a coalition of consumer groups to bring 140 advocates from 36 states to Washington, D.C., urging lawmakers to vote against legislation that would weaken the CFPB. Our activists from Arizona, Minnesota, and Nevada helped underscore the importance of strong consumer protection by sharing their personal experiences with predatory mortgage, payday, and student loan practices.

What You Can Do
Join us in calling for a strong CFPB by signing our petition at ConsumersUnion.org/fairfinance.

Air Your Frustrations

What's at Stake
Decades of consolidation from mergers and bankruptcies have transformed the airline industry into one with a laser focus on the bottom line and little apparent regard for passengers. CR believes the time has come to finally reverse this unacceptable trend.

In the wake of a United Airlines ticket holder being dragged off a plane to make room for an airline employee, airline executives were recently summoned by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee to testify at a hearing in Washington, D.C.

CR was the only consumer advocate invited to join the panel. Our senior aviation adviser, William McGee, focused his testimony on how the reduced competition in the industry has put consumers at the mercy of powerful airlines and explained how the United incident highlighted the need to rein in the unethical practice of overbooking flights. Moreover, McGee outlined the need for a consistent, uniform, comprehensive, and clear set of passenger rights for U.S. airlines. Several members of Congress agreed.

What You Can Do
Contact your lawmakers at senate.gov and house.gov and tell them you want rules and enforcement that will protect airline passengers.

Protect the Internet

What's at Stake
Net neutrality is the idea that internet service providers should allow even-handed access to all content without favoring or discriminating against particular providers or websites through extra fees or download slowdowns. In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission adopted the Open Internet Order to preserve this, a position that CR, an ardent supporter of net neutrality, applauded and fought for. We filed an amicus brief in favor of net neutrality to the U.S. Appeals Court for the D.C. Circuit, which upheld the Open Internet Order in 2016.

But recently, the FCC, now headed by Ajit Pai, announced a proposal to roll back these protections.

"This latest proposal should be chilling to everyone who values the internet as a platform for free speech, commerce, entrepreneurship, and citizen engagement," says Jonathan Schwantes, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union. "We implore Chairman Pai to listen to the interests of the public the Commission was tasked with protecting."

What You Can Do
Almost 4 million consumers submitted comments in support of the Open Internet Order and played a key role in getting net neutrality rules passed. Your voice is just as important, if not more, in protecting these rules now. Read "The Battle for Net Neutrality: Who Should Control Your Access to Content?" and go to ConsumersUnion.org/netneutrality to voice your support for a free and open internet.

Editor's Note: This article also appeared in the August 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.