The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Phone: (202) 588-1000

Fair Arbitration Now Coalition

Tonight: Senate Could Overturn CFPB’s Popular Arbitration Rule That Would Protect Consumers.


Just hours ahead of a vote being pushed by the U.S. Senate leadership on whether to repeal the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's (CFPB) arbitration rule, the Fair Arbitration Now (FAN) coalition announced that 96,790 Americans have signed a petition opposing the financial industry's efforts to overturn the rule. The petition bolsters recent survey findings from both progressive and conservative pollsters - as well as polls in Alaska, Arizona, Louisiana, Maine and Ohio - showing strong bipartisan support for protections from forced arbitration. Senators from these states who vote against the rule are defying the wishes of their constituents by siding with big banks over consumers, FAN maintains. The petition was organized by Public Citizen, Americans for Financial Reform, Consumers Union and several other consumer groups.

Forced arbitration clauses that are buried in the fine print of take-it-or-leave-it contracts may be the single most important tool used by predatory banks, payday lenders, credit card companies and other financial institutions to cheat and defraud their customers. These clauses push customer disputes into secretive arbitration proceedings that are rigged to favor financial companies and conceal wrongdoing from regulatory authorities. In response to this abusive practice, the CFPB finalized a rule that restores consumers' right to join together in class actions to challenge wrongdoing in court. But now, the Senate leadership is pushing to strike down the rule using a Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution of disapproval. The Senate could vote on S.J. Res. 47 as soon as tonight.

"The vote on this rule is a litmus test of whose side you're on: Main Street consumers or big banks," said Amanda Werner, arbitration campaign manager for Public Citizen and Americans for Financial Reform. "Big banks, the financial industry and their allies in Congress are trying to overturn the arbitration rule because it will deprive them of a means to rip off consumers with impunity. Even after condemning Wells Fargo and Equifax, these same politicians are about to cast a vote that would help them cheat and scam customers and get away with it scot free."

The fight over the arbitration rule gained national attention earlier this month when Werner dressed up as the Monopoly Man and sat directly behind Equifax CEO Richard Smith at a U.S. Senate Banking Committee hearing on Oct. 4. The stunt "won the Internet" and received glowing press coverage as the Monopoly Man was seen adjusting a monocle, wiping their brow with an oversized hundred-dollar bill and chasing down Smith with a bag of money after the hearing. Werner is leading a coalition of nearly 80 public interest groups in a campaign to defend the arbitration rule.

"Forced arbitration is a rigged game, one that the bank nearly always wins. It gives companies like Wells Fargo and Equifax a monopoly over our system of justice by blocking consumers' access to the courts. It's no secret why lawmakers want to hand financial companies a Get Out of Jail Free card. The financial industry has given more than $100 million in campaign contributions to lawmakers opposed to the rule. These contributions help explain why lawmakers are willing to aid and abet big banks in ripping off their own constituents despite overwhelming bipartisan support for the rule," Werner added.

Contact any of the individuals listed above to speak with an expert.

Public Citizen is a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization that champions the public interest in the halls of power. We defend democracy, resist corporate power and work to ensure that government works for the people - not for big corporations. Founded in 1971, we now have 500,000 members and supporters throughout the country.

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