Financial Reform

Investor rights on chopping block in U.S. Senate (updated)

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

(See updates (click Keep Reading): Today, the U.S. Senate will consider the House-passed "JOBS" Act, which weakens investor protections -- many passed after the Internet bubble burst and Enron's follow-on bankruptcy destroyed jobs and retirement savings. Its supporters claim the bill to make it easier for small companies to navigate SEC rules and  thereby promote small company growth (which theoretically creates, you guessed it, jobs), has already been thoroughly vetted. Yet, the bill is opposed by some of the Senate's most thoughtful investor champions and opposed by U.S. PIRG and numerous consumer and investor organizations. We support a substitute to be offered by Senators Jack Reed (RI), Mary Landrieu (LA) and Carl Levin (MI) because it protects investors. But if the substitute fails to get 60 votes, the JOBS Act will be non-amendable under an ill-advised special fast-track system set up to speed it through.

Senate Wants to Pass Dangerous Just Open Bucket Shops Act (so-called Jobs Act)

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

You may not remember any pre-2008 scandals -- dot.com bubble?; ? --  since they are so yesterday's news. Don't worry. The House and Senate don't remember, either. If the Senate has its way with quick passage of the misnamed already-House-passed Jobs Act, -- better named by the New York Times columnist Gail Collins as the "" -- conflicted analysts will make stuff up again, government watchdogs like the will be chained, and small and novice investors will be looking at "crowd-funded websites" from good guys and bad guys, too, including often-fraudulent Chinese IPOs. Things are so bad that the Senate's leading investor champions to modify the proposal -- let alone block it -- even with a compromise alternative (). Only in Washington.

A Federal Trade Commission (FTC) confirms what we've known all along: The big credit bureaus pressure identity theft victims into buying overpriced, underperforming credit monitoring subscription packages.

Consumer fraud summit today will be webcast

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

UPDATE: LINK TO C-SPAN WEBCAST ARCHIVE (My PANEL and entire event )

In times of financial calamity, fraudsters come out to take your . This afternoon U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will host a consumer financial fraud summit () at Georgetown Law School near Union Station bringing together enforcers from the DOJ, FTC, state agencies and consumer groups. I'll be on a panel discussing business opportunity frauds. Other panels will be on elder fraud and tax scams. The event is free and open to the public and will be .

WH urges privacy rights, industry promises "Do Not Track Sometimes" while states investigate Google

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

As web giants amass more and more information about consumers for behavioral targeting and even "social discrimination" -- which can include differential pricing for the same product or the use of web tracking data and falsely-flagged websites to -- the White House has called for a . Companies and powerful industry lobbies seeking to keep those rights weak have rolled out their own ". Meanwhile bi-partisan groups of and, now, have demanded information from Google about its slippery, ever-changing privacy policies and whether Googleis in compliance with settlements it has already agreed to.

At a news conference in NYC today, Director Richard Cordray of the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) will announce a major investigation of bank overdraft fee practices and propose a model "penalty box" disclosure to appear on bank statements. The investigation could end the $39 latte-- $4 bucks for the coffee, $35 for the debit card overdraft fee.

Consumer news update, some stories I've been following

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Just a summary of some of what I think are the important consumer news stories of the last week or so, in case you missed any of them.

News Release | U.S. PIRG | Financial Reform

U.S. PIRG Applauds CFPB Proposal To Regulate Biggest Credit Bureaus

“Last summer over 10,000 PIRG members submitted comments to the urging strict regulation of credit bureaus and credit scoring firms. We applaud the CFPB for its proposal today to subject the nation’s largest credit bureaus and credit scoring firms to full scrutiny as “” (CFPB pdf) in the financial marketplace."

We Tell the Financial Regulators: Don’t Let Big Banks Make Taxpayer-Backed Bets

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Last night, U.S. PIRG and the AFL-CIO joined Americans for Financial Reform in a detailed comment letter urging issuance of a strong Volcker rule. It's a that basically comes down to this: We tell the financial regulators: don’t let big banks make taxpayer-backed bets.

CFPB To Visit NYC and More Consumer News of the Week, In Case You Missed It

By | Ed Mierzwinski
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

Just a few of the interesting consumer stories I am following this week: to talk about checking accounts (Feb. 22)... Meanwhile, Citibank charged some consumers twice to pay bills only once ()...Consumer groups call for a real recall of Bumbo baby seat ()...Mortgage settlement is a good first step (PIRG statement)...House opponents ratchet up attacks on new CFPB ()...Over-priced "Who will pay your credit card if you die, get sick or get laid off?" products pay out only 21 cents on the dollar ()...More on the CFPB's latest semi-annual report ()...PIRG, Demos document rise of the Super-PACS (MS-NBC)...And finally, "Enron" -- a musical theater production about corporate crime, re-opens in Washington State ().

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