Coalition Efforts

Consumer Action is working on these important issues along with other organizations. If you would like to know more about these issues, please see “More Information” at the end of each article.

 
 

Postings

Climate change threatens vulnerable residents’ housing opportunities
Groups write to the Federal Housing Finance Agency with concerns that climate risk mitigation efforts could cause inadvertent harm to communities already vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.

Limit ways robocallers can evade TRACED Act
The TRACED Act was passed by Congress to protect consumers from robocalls and to give the Federal Communications Commission enforcement authority over illegal calls. Led by the National Consumer Law Center, groups pushed back at some industry requests for exemptions to its new rules giving consumers opt-out rights.

Utility pole access is barrier to widespread broadband deployment
Groups supportive of increased broadband deployment in underserved areas call on Congress to ensure a fast, fair process for privately owned utility pole access. Because poles are owned by private carriers, disputes often arise over their use by third parties and more equitable rights for access and dispute resolution could help deploy broadband more widely by using existing pole networks.

Congress asked to restore FTC’s monetary relief powers
Groups ask Congress to expand the FTC’s powers to protect consumers, which have been jeopardized by a recent Supreme Court decision calling into question the FTC’s authority to demand monetary relief in its enforcement actions.

Public health policy versus pharmaceutical industry IP rights
Advocacy groups ask the White House to ensure that vaccines whose development was wholly or in part developed with taxpayer funding are not held hostage by unfair patent restrictions that hinder public health goals.

Expanding access to homeownership for consumers with limited English proficiency
One in five U.S. residents speak a language other than English at home, yet the financial services market still caters primarily to fluent English speakers. In a letter to Congress, coalition members wrote in support of the LEP Data Acquisition in Mortgage Lending Act and the bill to promote language access in mortgage servicing. LEP borrowers face many challenges that impede their full participation in the consumer marketplace, including, specifically, their ability to obtain and preserve ownership of a home. Together, these bills will make important strides in improving access to the mortgage market and awareness of the availability of assistance for homeowners who are struggling to keep up with their mortgage payments, which is especially critical during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Choice of retirement plan disclosure notice still important for workers and retirees
Consumer Action joined coalition members in urging the Employee Benefits Security Administration and the Department of Labor to address the severe shortcomings in the Department’s recently adopted “Notice-and-Access” rule. Until the changes last May, the default had been to deliver retirement plan disclosures on paper, sent through the mail. Under the new rule, the retirement plan merely sends an email or text message to a consumer letting them know that a disclosure is available on a website. The new rule’s default makes no provision for the sizeable proportion of individuals who still don’t have access to computers or internet service and makes it much harder for ordinary Americans to access the documents they need to plan for retirement.

Support closing the 90/10 loophole to protect students during the COVID-19 pandemic
Thirty-six organizations wrote to Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Republican Leader McConnell in support of closing the 90/10 loophole in the American Rescue Plan of 2021. During the "Great Recession" student enrollment at for-profit colleges increased by close to 49 percent, driven in part by aggressive and deceptive recruiting practices. And the cycle - this time driven by COVID-19 - has already started to repeat: for-profit college enrollment has increased from 13 to 15 percent, while public college enrollment, particularly at community colleges, has declined as much as 20 percent. Closing the 90/10 loophole allows for the accounting of all taxpayer dollars that flow to for-profit colleges, and the ability to identify high-risk colleges that are overly dependent on federal subsidies, and that may be financially unstable during the pandemic. The loophole has particular consequences for veterans because it leads to well-documented and disproportionate deceptive and misleading recruiting tactics directed at veterans and servicemembers.

The FTC and CFPB must do more to prevent mass homelessness during the pandemic
Over 11 million families are at risk of losing housing. Protection from evictions and foreclosures is greatly needed due to the ongoing economic crisis accompanying the COVID-19 pandemic, including the loss of household income in the near and long term. Consumer Action joined advocates in urging the U.S. Federal Trade Commission and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to work together to prohibit unfair debt collections and ensure financial and regulatory agencies confirm industry standards regarding forbearance availability for homeowners. Without these additional protections, many will lose their homes and be forced to move at a time when COVID-19 levels are still extremely high and vaccination access for many is still months away. As a result, the financial impact of COVID would result in substantially greater risk of spreading illness.

Over 100 groups call on Federal Reserve to Strengthen CRA
More than 100 national and local civil rights, fair lending and consumer rights organizations have urged the Federal Reserve Board to strengthen the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a key anti-redlining and civil rights law. In detailed comments that addressed issues from access to credit, location of bank branches and investments in underserved communities, the groups laid out a plan for the Biden Administration to leverage CRA to ensure an equitable recovery from the ongoing economic, racial justice and public health crisis.

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