Press Release: Four Groups and 50,000 Petitioners Urge Congress to Oppose Auto Loan Discrimination

Today ColorOfChange, Working Families, Center for Popular Democracy and Americans for Financial Reform (AFR) delivered over 50,000 petitions urging Congress not to pass H.R. 1737, which would block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) from working to fight discrimination in car loans.

The groups delivered their petitions to the offices of House Majority Leader Paul Ryan, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and Representative G.K. Butterfield, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

If you’re a person of color taking out a car loan, odds are you’ll pay a significantly higher interest rate than you would if you were white. Since 2013, the Consumer Bureau has begun to tackle this long-neglected, well-documented problem, both through enforcement and by issuing a guidance on fair lending law compliance for lenders working with dealerships to finance auto purchases. H.R. 1737 would invalidate the guidance and impose burdensome and unnecessary new procedures exclusively on the CFPB’s ability to address this issue. On Monday, at least 65 consumer rights, civil rights and advocacy groups, including ColorOfChange, Working Families, AFR and CPD will deliver a letter opposing H.R. 1737 and urging members of Congress to vote ‘no.’ A similar letter, co-signed by the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights and 18 other civil rights groups, was submitted in September.

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange said, “We applaud the CFPB for its proactive approach in communicating existing law, and Congress should do everything in its power to ensure that the CFPB is able to continue doing its job. This is yet another example that reveals how hard-working Black and Brown people are being stripped of their economic rights by systems that are meant to support all consumers. This bill has flown under the radar for most, but we want our elected representatives to know that we are watching.”

Dan Cantor, National Director of Working Families, said: “Congress needs to decide between protecting families of color or protecting dirty lenders. That hardly seems like a hard choice for ethical people, and you have to hope that includes a majority of Congress.”

Reuben Hayslett, National Online Campaigner for Working Families, said, “Congress is about to face a big choice: will they take the wrong turn on auto loans with this bill? We need to let the CFPB protect families of color when shopping for a car. Will Congress take directions from auto lenders who profit off discriminatory lending?”

The CFPB has partnered with the Department of Justice to win settlements on behalf of Black, Latino, and Asian and Pacific Islander customers who were charged higher interest rates on car loans than white customers with similar financial profiles. So far, Ally Bank, Honda, and Fifth Third Bank have agreed to pay a combined $140 million in fines and restitution to overcharged consumers.

View the ColorOfChange petition here.