Letter to Congress: Letter from 92 groups urging inclusion of consumer protections in covid-19 relief

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Aug 12, 2020


Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510


Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

United States Senate

Washington, DC 20510


Chairman Mike Crapo

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Washington, DC 20510


Ranking Member Sherrod Brown

Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

Washington, DC 20510


Re: Consumer protections for next COVID legislation


Dear Majority Leader McConnell, Minority Leader Schumer, Chairman Crapo, and Ranking Member Brown,


The 92 undersigned consumer, civil rights, community, housing, labor, and other public interest organizations write to urge you to include consumer protections in the next coronavirus recovery package or other upcoming COVID-19 legislation.


Over the past five months, we have seen the COVID-19 pandemic wreak havoc on the lives of millions of people across the United States. Unfortunately, as COVID-19 continues to spread across the country, its devastating impact on the American economy and household finances is continuing to cause tremendous financial distress for families and small businesses. Unemployment remains alarmingly high and many families find themselves in particularly precarious situations as federal, state, and local protections have expired or are due to expire shortly. Due to underlying health and socioeconomic disparities, low- and moderate-income families and communities of color, especially Black, Latinx, and Native American communities, have been hit particularly hard by illness, unemployment, and economic instability. Women of color face intersecting inequities from health and economic disparities based on race and sex.


It is absolutely critical that Congress and the administration enact broad-based, efficient, and effective relief to protect people’s finances so that they can weather this ongoing crisis and provide them with the stability they need to rebuild, including the following measures:


  • Provide emergency rental assistance to millions of American households who are threatened with severe housing instability due to the pandemic. Rental assistance funding must be sufficient to ensure that people impacted by COVID-19 across all rental housing types in urban, rural, and tribal areas do not lose their rental home or fall so far behind on rent that they face an increased likelihood of being evicted. Rental assistance should preserve housing stability and prevent homelessness via future rent payments, unpaid rent arrearages, and to a limited extent, utility payments and unforeseen operating costs associated with responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.


  • Prohibit negative credit reporting. No one should see their credit record harmed as a result of the pandemic. We call for a temporary moratorium on all negative credit reporting related to payments missed during the crisis and for longer protections upon request for people who face lasting financial hardship from the outbreak.


  • Halt all debt collection activity. Debt collection activity by collectors, creditors, and government entities should be suspended. Debt collectors should not be allowed to start new lawsuits and pending cases should be stayed. All new and existing garnishments, setoffs, car repossessions, utility shutoffs, and evictions should be stopped, and all requests to stop automatic payments should be promptly honored.


  • Prevent accrual of additional fees and interest. No late fees, default interest, or compounding interest should accrue for any debt until the pandemic eases significantly and normal employment patterns resume. Banks should stop charging overdraft and nonsufficient funds fees.


  • Prevent predatory lending by capping interest rates on new loans at 36%. Predatory lenders could use the crisis as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable consumers and small businesses facing acute financial distress and profiteer off exploitative high-cost loans. Interest rates on any new credit extended during the emergency should be capped and there should be clear and enforceable prohibitions against predatory lenders and other profiteers taking advantage of people during a health crisis and severe economic stress.


  • Require payment forbearance and flexible repayment options for all types of payment obligations. Mortgage companies, landlords, banks, auto lenders, and other creditors should be required to provide forbearances on payments for the duration of the crisis. Forbearances should remain in place for a period after the health crisis abates to allow people and small businesses to get back on their feet financially before having to begin repayment. Creditors, landlords, utility providers and others should not be allowed to demand lump sum full payment after the forbearance period, but be required to offer flexible and affordable repayment options, including forgiveness, term extensions for fixed credit obligations, reasonable repayment plans, and loan modifications.




We urge you to include these consumer protections in the next COVID-19 relief legislation to provide families with the temporary relief they need to get through this unprecedented emergency. These protections will lay the foundation for more stable communities and a faster economic recovery.  We ask that you incorporate this assistance in the next package to protect people’s financial resources as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on many communities across the United States.


Thank you for your consideration. If you have any questions, please contact Linda Jun at linda@ourfinancialsecurity.org or Rachel Gittleman at rgittleman@consumerfed.org




Americans for Financial Reform

20/20 Vision

Alabama Arise

Alaska PIRG

Arizona PIRG

Arkansas Community Organizations

Boaz & Ruth

Brazos Valley Financial Fitness Center



Center for Digital Democracy

Center for Economic Integrity

Center for Economic Justice

Center for Justice & Democracy

Chicago Consumer Coalition

Citizens Action Coalition of IN

Community Legal Services of Philadelphia


Consumer Action

Consumer Federation of America

Consumer Federation of California

Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety


Delaware Community Reinvestment Action Council, Inc.


Endangered Species Coalition

Every Texan

Florida Alliance for Retired Americans

Florida PIRG

Florida Silver Haired Legislature Inc

Georgia PIRG

Georgia Watch

Housing Initiatives of Princeton

Illinois PIRG

Indiana Institute for Working Families

Indiana PIRG


Kentucky Equal Justice Center

Legal Aid Justice Center

Legal Services of New Jersey

Maryland PIRG





National Advocacy Center of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd

National Association of Consumer Advocates

National Center for Law and Economic Justice

National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low income clients)

National Council of Gray Panthers Networks

National Employment Law Project

National Fair Housing Alliance

National Housing Resource Center

National WIC Association


New Georgia Project

New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG)





OnTrack Financial Education & Counseling



PIRG in Michigan (PIRGIM)

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

Public Citizen

Public Justice Center

Public Law Center



RVA Eviction Lab

SC Appleseed Legal Justice Center


South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center

SPLC Action Fund

Storefront For Community Design

Texas Appleseed

Texas Consumer Association



Tzedek DC


United Way of Greater Houston

United Way of Southern Cameron County

Virginia Citizens Consumer Council

Virginia Organizing




Woodstock Institute

Working In Neighborhoods