CFPB issued a final regulation ensuring that consumers can join together to challenge financial fraud and scams in court. The rule limits the use of forced arbitration, a process Wall Street banks and predatory lenders use to evade accountability and keep their misconduct out of the public eye.
AFR in the News: Banks and credit card companies really hate class actions – will Trump help outlaw them? (LA Times)
“Sometime in the next few weeks, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is expected to impose stringent limits on the ability of banks and credit card companies to avoid consumer lawsuits. The financial services industry has been screaming bloody murder
‘We’re all preparing for a big fight,’ says Amanda Werner, who has been keeping an eye on the CFPB rule making for the consumer groups Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform.”
Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform applaud the announcement of a proposed $110 million settlement for consumers harmed by the bank’s fraudulent account scheme in multiple class-action lawsuits against Wells Fargo.
“The House passed legislation to effectively kill class action lawsuits, which are often consumers’ only chance to fight back against repeated corporate fraud and scams… ‘If this bill becomes law, those ill-gotten gains will instead be used to pad Wall Street’s bottom line,’ said Lisa Donner, Executive Director of Americans for Financial Reform… ‘H.R. 985 gives banks and lenders a license to steal and encourages more scandals like Wells Fargo’s fake account opening.'”
“Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on Monday said she’ll crack down on increasingly common ‘fine print’ consumer agreements that insulate companies such as Wells Fargo from lawsuits related to consumer abuses… The clauses typically force customers to use the arbitration firm and arbitrator selected by the company, says Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for Americans for Financial Reform.”
“[P]erhaps the most shocking aspect of this story is that no executive under whose watch it occurred has been forced to return any compensation. While over 5,000 front line, mostly customer service employees have been fired, former consumer banking chief Carrie Tolstedt, who oversaw their work, recently retired with a $125 million compensation package. It is unclear if Wells Fargo plans to take back any of this pay package. There is similarly no clear indication that Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf will have to return any of the almost $100 million in bonus pay he received for the years in which the violations were occurring.”
“How did Wells Fargo get away with it for so long? A big part of the story: Wells Fargo contract provisions blocked consumers from suing the bank in court. It’s past time to prohibit the “ripoff clauses” that prevent consumers from enforcing their most basic legal rights… The problem isn’t just that aggrieved consumers don’t have access to a remedy. Keeping cases out of court means abuses are kept out of the spotlight. That’s exactly what happened with Wells Fargo, and why the abuses could go on so long.”