A Message from Consumer Action

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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

ED must stop funding fraudulent and predatory for-profit colleges
Consumer, student and veteran advocates wrote to U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to ask her to withhold federal funding from schools managed by the Center for Excellence in Higher Education after a Colorado state district court judge ruled that numerous schools managed by the organization had lied to prospective students about graduates’ earnings, job placement opportunities and loan repayment options. Advocates noted that the Higher Education Act bars institutions from receiving federal student aid funding if it “has been judicially determined to have committed fraud.”

The Department of Transportation fails to address consumers' pandemic concerns
In a letter sent to Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Elaine Chao, consumer groups expressed their deep frustration that the Department’s Aviation Consumer Protection Advisory Committee is ignoring the most pressing airline passenger complaints and concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter notes that many Americans are concerned about the risk of contracting the coronavirus while flying, and that a record 50,000 consumers filed complaints with the DOT about the airlines’ refusal to provide refunds for canceled flights during the crisis. Neither topic was addressed at the most recent Committee meeting, which was only the second such meeting since the Committee was reconstituted in the fall of 2018.

Seniors deserve a simplified Medicare enrollment process
Consumer Action joined Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading research and advocacy organization supporting Medicare Advantage, in unveiling a new white paper that contains a set of comprehensive recommendations to reimagine Medicare enrollment and empower beneficiaries to make better sense of their coverage options. The coalition’s five-pronged plan, entitled “Empowering Beneficiaries and Modernizing Medicare Enrollment,” offers bold recommendations for reform, including shifting all Medicare enrollment responsibilities from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Advocates tell CFPB: “Stop violations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act.”
Consumer Action joined a coalition of 20 advocacy groups in urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to revoke permission that the Bureau granted the credit reporting industry to violate the 30-day deadline imposed by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) for investigating disputes — a waiver that was given to help ease the burden of business operations during the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Given the severe financial difficulties that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on millions of American consumers, and after seeing a 550% increase in complaint submissions to the CFPB on the matter, it’s more important than ever that credit reporting disputes are resolved in a timely manner.

State-based “bills of rights” needed to protect student loan borrowers
Consumer Action joined a coalition of over 50 organizations in support of a Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights in Massachusetts. (We also supported a similar effort that recently passed the California legislature.) Even before the current pandemic, student loan borrowers have had to deal with a predatory student loan servicing industry that knowingly misleads borrowers to increase its profits. With the increased financial instability brought by the pandemic, it’s more important than ever that borrowers are informed of their rights and are protected by strong consumer guidelines.

Patients deserve access to cheaper prescription drugs
The Food and Drug Administration sought input for improvements to its generic drug approval process, including for complex generic drugs. Advocates stressed the importance of implementing policies that increase competition among drug companies and reduce barriers to cheaper prescription drugs. It’s time Americans have greater access to more affordable drugs and newly approved generic medicines.

The next COVID-19 relief package should include these critical consumer protections
Millions of people and small businesses in the United States are experiencing tremendous financial distress because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unemployment is skyrocketing and families are struggling to put food on the table. Congress and the administration need to enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief that goes far beyond the CARES Act to protect people’s homes, cars, bank accounts, income, and benefits so that they can weather this crisis. Consumer Action joined nearly 100 consumer, civil rights, community and other public interest groups weigh in on recommendations for Congress' next stimulus package.

Online marketplaces should do more to protect customers from harmful products
Consumer Action urged California lawmakers to support AB 3262, which helps protect consumers by ensuring that online marketplaces are held strictly liable for defective products to the same extent as brick-and-mortar retailers, incentivizing them to vet sellers and to remove harmful products from their sites. This important legislation is particularly timely, as shoppers are increasingly turning to online marketplace platforms in light of COVID-19. With uncertainty in the courts, clear legislative action is needed to incentivize online marketplaces to protect these consumers and verify the safety of products to the same extent as brick-and-mortar stores do.

Advocates call foul as CFPB hides consumer complaint narratives from public view
Consumer Action joined nearly three dozen consumer, civil rights, community, housing, and privacy groups in urging the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to reconsider its decision to bury the narratives of consumer complaints, making it much harder for non-experts to find this essential material in its consumer complaint database. Access to the complaint narratives helps to educate and empower consumers to make wise financial decisions and meets the Bureau’s mandate to inform and protect consumers. Public access to this critical information also helps to hold companies accountable for their behavior in the financial marketplace.

Proposed Senate bill fails to Protect Student Borrowers during pandemic
Consumer Action joined 55 other organizations in submitting a letter to Senate leadership in opposition to the Safely Back to School and Back to Work Act. This proposed legislation falls far short of what young Americans need and should expect from their elected leaders. Rather than extend vital support during a dual public health and economic crisis, this bill would leave millions of student loan borrowers without protections while failing to extend and expand a repayment suspension put in place by the CARES Act. Doing so would only make the burden of student debt heavier, leaving many young Americans financially insecure.

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