In a fair and just economy, we all have access to the resources and services we need to build a financially safe, secure and stable life.
From hidden costs and confusing terms and conditions to exploitative and predatory practices, consumers can find it difficult to protect what they earn and make informed decisions about what to do with their money. In the digital marketplace, technological innovation is creating new products and services that may bring convenience but also create unseen risks and consequences. The scale and breadth of the economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 has exposed an even broader swath of consumers to financial hardship and fragility, and has demonstrated the depth of structural problems and the need for consumer protection.
CR’s strategy will focus on three goals. First, we will advocate for consumers to emerge from the economic crisis unharmed, particularly consumers of color who have been disproportionately impacted: whether managing auto or student loans, mortgages or credit card debt, no consumers should face a greater debt burden or damaged credit scores due to forces out of their control.
Second, we will strengthen foundational consumer protections where our efforts can have the most impact. CR will sustain its long commitment to and engagement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, seeking to reverse a trend of weakening government oversight. We will also work to expand protections in states through model laws and regulatory protections in California, New York, and elsewhere.
Third, we will ensure financial protections are applied and enforced equally in the digital marketplace. Regulators and advocates are stymied by the complexity of digital finance, and powerful corporations argue that consumer protections limit innovation and wealth creation. CR has developed respected in-house expertise on digital transactions, which, coupled with our capacity to test, enables us to speak with authority about the consumer harms embedded in digital finance. We must ensure that digital financial tools help consumers, emerging harms are not normalized, and old biases are not replicated in new products. Our success will be defined by our ability to build partnerships with young, diverse consumers who are acutely aware of the ways in which technology and data are being used against them.
How will we know if we succeeded?
- Foundational consumer protections are preserved and strengthened.
- Digital financial tools enhance financial well-being and do not create risks.
- Financial transactions are transparent and fair, and do not trap consumers in debt.