My Civic Workout: Here Come the Sharks


Here Come the Sharks

Wall Street over Main Street
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My Civic Workout: Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep loving, Keep fighting.
June 20, 2017
American consumers are not being given a choice regarding the Financial Choice Act of 2017. Congressional Republicans are trying to decide for us. The bill recently passed the House of Representatives, and dismantles — er, “deregulates” — some of the important consumer protections put in place following the 2007/8 financial crisis. As a society, we’ve been doing our best to keep predatory lenders at bay, but the sharks are a-circling, because this bill means it’s feeding time.
5 Minute Workout

Pick one of the provisions in the Financial Choice Act to learn about:

  • Financial product consumers can look at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s consumer complaint database to investigate a company’s reputation, or to see if their loan repayment horror story happened to anyone else. Read about how the bill blocks public access to the database.
  • Read about how the Financial Choice Act guts the imperfect but better-than-nothing Dodd-Frank law.
  • The Volcker rule is the component of Dodd-Frank that discourages banks from making risky bets—and the Financial Choice Act repeals it. Watch this video to learn what we’d be losing.
Get Started
10 Minute Workout

It’s now up to the Senate to pass the Financial Choice Act. This bill faces a Democrat filibuster, which would stop it in its current form, but Senate Republicans could still repeal aspects of Dodd-Frank through reconciliation. Time to call your senators! Here’s a handy script:

“Hi, my name is (NAME), and I’m calling from (CITY, ZIP). I am opposed to the Financial Choice Act, and I worry that repealing Dodd-Frank will bring us right back to where we were in 2007. What is the senator’s position on the Financial Choice Act? Can you pass along my message that I’m very concerned about it as a consumer?”

If you have first-hand experience with the predatory practices of banks, throw out the script and just tell your story.

Get Started
30 Minute Workout
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) wants you to tell your story about being a financial product consumer. Did it seem like your deposited check cleared, and you overdrafted your account? Did you take out a payday loan, and then another one, and become trapped in a payday lending loop? Were you—or are you—drowning in student loan debt? What about credit card debt? Sharing your story can help the CFPB detect patterns of financial institution abuse. Plus, it might just feel good to get it off your chest.
Get Started

Merriam-Webster defines predatory lending as “the practice of lending money to a borrower by use of aggressive, deceptive, fraudulent, or discriminatory means.” Predatory lending schemes are becoming more sophisticated, and a financial literacy course can actually change your life. Invest some time into taking one of the following free online financial literacy courses:

Second Wind

Last year, Mother Jones’s Gary Rivlin did a deep dive into subprime loans for cars:

Credit Acceptance’s own records show that Peel spoke to 111 separate people in its call center over two years. Never once was she granted access to a supervisor, despite her pleas and the occasional promise of a callback. She felt helpless, she told me. Without a title, she couldn’t drive the car legally and she couldn’t sell it. And with her credit tied up in the Taurus, it’s not like anyone would loan her the money for another car. “I’m very, very polite,” she said. “I come from a good family. But I got pissed off. I got a little crazy a couple of times.”

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