Blog Posts By:

Ed Mierzwinski,
Senior Director, Federal Consumer Program

The House should pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill on the House floor this week. Among other provisions, it allocates $65 billion to make fast broadband more available -- especially in rural and tribal areas -- and more affordable. That total includes about $14 billion to subsidize access and about $42 billion to deploy broadband. Also, broadband providers would be required to use a new pricing label based on the easy-to-read FDA nutrition labels.

Photo of "Rural Broadband Buildout Project" by Maryland GovPics, via Flickr, some rights reserved.

Consumers increasingly are using digital peer-to-peer payment (P2P) apps for convenience. However, that convenience can quickly turn to inconvenience as the result of these apps’ often-confusing design, poor customer service and propensity for being used for scams and fraud. The number of written complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) about these apps and other financial tools in the “mobile or digital wallet” category has skyrocketed in recent years, reaching new heights in 2021.

Cover photo by grinvalds via IStock 

An important debate is taking place in the Arizona legislature over one of the ways dominant Big Tech companies Apple and Google maintain massive profits. Fortunately, Arizona State Representative Regina Cobb (R-Kingman) is taking on the Apple Store and Google Play Store duopoly to give consumers lower prices and more choices.

In late 2020, state and federal consumer cops filed several enforcement actions against the powerful Big Tech platforms Google and Facebook over practices alleged to violate antitrust and competition laws.  What is notable about these efforts is the degree of bipartisanship and collaboration involved. Ideally, Congress will find a way to follow the bipartisan lead of the state consumer cops and make its continued investigations and actions against the Big Tech firms that now dominate the economy more effective.

Polls show voters, across party lines, want both a strong CFPB and strong Wall Street, payday lender and debt collector oversight. Will the next Congress listen to them and undo this Administration's myriad rollbacks of consumer and investor financial protections?

As of today, consumer complaints to the CFPB set a third straight monthly record in May, with 35,093 complaints reported. Complaints about credit reporting lead by far, followed by debt collection, credit card and mortgage complaints. Job and income losses during the pandemic are hitting families hard.

I’ve been reading the CFPB’s mail. It’s okay, you can too. It’s public. Not surprisingly, the latest CFPB consumer complaints paint a grim picture of the pandemic’s effect on family finances. I ask: Why isn’t the CFPB doing more to help struggling consumers?

This blog explains U.S. PIRG's support for automated warning and contact tracing, subject to appropriate privacy and civil liberties protections, which can provide critical information quickly about who has potentially been exposed.

Yesterday, U.S. PIRG joined leading consumer groups and bank trade associations in a joint letter urging Congress at the soonest possible opportunity to clarify that economic impact payments responding to this public health emergency are exempt from otherwise legally binding garnishment orders.

The CFPB's first director, Rich Cordray, has published a book, "Watchdog," explaining efforts to set up and run the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.