Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) quotes from the Military Coalition's letter in support of saving the CFPB's rule, which would grant our military heroes the Constitutional rights they fight and sacrifice to preserve, for our entire nation.
 
 
 
 
 
NEWS For immediate release: Thursday, November 9, 2017

Contact: Rosemary Shahan, President, CARS, 530-759- 9440
 
 
Veterans, Relatives of Veterans, Consumer Group, and Concerned Citizens Protest Pres. Trump's Dismissal of Pleas from Military and Veterans' Groups, Signing Legislation that Takes Away Americans' Right to Seek Justice From Crooked Banks Like Wells Fargo
 
       Davis, CA – In observance of the upcoming Veteran's Day, military Veterans, relatives of Veterans, the non-profit consumer group Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS), and supporters protested today at the local Wells Fargo branch in Davis against Wells Fargo's illegal practices, and President Trump's allowing those practices to continue, by denying victims the choice to band together and take Wells Fargo and other crooked banks to Court, to obtain justice.

       Trump recently signed legislation that was opposed by Military, Veterans, and consumer organizations, allowing Wells Fargo and other banks that engage in massive fraud to get away with cheating millions of customers, by imposing forced arbitration on them through "ripoff clauses" that are often hidden in the fine print. According to Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Michael Hiltzik, of the Los Angeles Times, "Here's why Wells Fargo forces its customers into arbitration: It wins most of the time."

       The protesters urged people and businesses with accounts at Wells Fargo to switch to credit unions, where typically there is no forced arbitration clause. Sacramento consumer Megan Varvais closed her accounts with Wells Fargo. She recently opened up new accounts at Golden One. CARS released the results of new research into the 131 California-chartered credit unions, which found that most credit unions in California do not take away their customer's rights to sue or to join a class action.

       Wall Street and Wells Fargo made it a top priority to kill a rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that would have restored consumers' freedom to choose whether to band together and take banks that rip them off to court, or to pursue claims in private, corporate-controlled arbitration, a rigged system that consumers extremely rarely even attempt to use.

       Wells Fargo and other Wall Street banks are currently celebrating a huge victory against being held accountable by their victims, thanks to GOP Members of Congress, who voted in the dark of night, and President Trump, who signed the anti-consumer, anti-military legislation into law behind closed doors, killing the CFPB rule. Congressman Garamendi and all other Democratic members of Congress voted to save the rule and consumers' Constitutional rights.

       Among Wells Fargo's victims: active duty military Servicemembers, whose vehicles Wells Fargo illegally repossessed, even when they had set up automatic payments before deploying to war zones. When military servicemembers experience financial readiness problems that harm their credit, such as vehicle repossessions, they may lose their security clearances, which can harm or even end their military careers. The loss of security clearances can pose a serious threat to our national
 
 
 
 
 
security, as our nation desperately needs Servicemembers to be able to serve in the capacities they trained for, including in military intelligence, which requires high level security clearances.

       A coalition of 29 military and veterans groups opposed the effort by Wells Fargo and other big Wells Street banks to overturn the consumer-friendly rule. The Military Coalition, which represents 5.5 million current and former servicemembers and their families, supported the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's rule to free consumers to choose whether to take banks to court or to use private arbitration, calling forced arbitration an "un-American system wherein servicemembers are funneled into a rigged, secretive system."

       After all but 3 GOP members of Congress sided with Wells Fargo, Equifax, and other big banks, and voted to overturn the CFPB rule, with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, the American Legion urged President Trump to veto the measure, stating in a news release:

       "Every servicemember and veteran should have the right and responsibility to confront predatory loan practices….Many financial institutions include mandatory pre-dispute arbitration clauses in financial contracts that bar servicemembers, veterans and others from bringing legal action to court or banding together in class action lawsuits to seek relief under federal or state law. Class action waivers are particularly damaging to servicemembers, who may not be able to challenge a financial institution's illegal or unfair practices individually due to limited resources, frequent relocation or being deployed overseas." 1

       The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau studied 419 class actions and found $2.7 billion in relief over five years for consumers, with just 18 percent going to attorney's fees and expenses. That is, $2.2 billion, or 82 percent, went to consumers — a far cry from a penny. When banks cheat millions of people out of $100 each, it takes lawyers on consumers' side to fight back and, yes, they get paid more than $100 if they win — but only if they win.

       "It's shameful that our nation's Commander in Chief sided with Wall Street, and failed to honor the military community's veto request. Now it's our mission to show our military heroes and veterans that we have their backs, even if he doesn't," said Rosemary Shahan, President of the non-profit consumer advocacy organization Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, based in Sacramento. Shahan was married to a Navy Judge Advocate General officer for 20 years, and is the daughter and niece of veterans of World War II.

       "I'm breaking up with Wells Fargo because President Trump took away our right to fight back in court if we are ripped off, and now it's up to all of us to protect ourselves by not doing business with dishonest banks. I refuse to do business with a bank that has a ripoff clause and imposes forced arbitration," said Sacramento consumer Megan Varvais. "It's also important to me to support our Military Servicemembers and Veterans, who deserve to have the freedom to choose to take a bank that ripped them off to court."

       Varvais successfully sued JP Morgan Chase as a leading member of a class action that forced Chase to refund over $110 million in illegal overdraft fees to its customers, most of them struggling low-income consumers and their families. Chase also was compelled to reform its practices, benefiting future customers.
1   "Legion calls on Trump to veto measure that strips servicemembers and veterans of vital financial protections," News Release, issued by the American Legion, Oct. 26, 2017. Posted at: https://www.legion.org/legislative/239750/legion-calls-trump-veto-measure-strips-servicemembers-and-veterans-vital

 
 
 
 
Wells Fargo is currently fighting against having to refund illegal overdraft fees to consumers in other states. (More information about Megan Varvais, Wells Fargo and overdraft fees is posted here.)

       "I was proud to wear my country's uniform and serve in the United States Marine Corps. Today I'm also proud of our military and veterans associations, which have been standing up for our nation's Servicemembers and their families, and veterans, against crooked banks like Wells Fargo, to preserve our freedoms and fundamental Constitutional rights. It's shameful that our nation's Commander in Chief failed to honor the military community's veto request. Now it's up to us to send crooked banks a message: This fight isn't over. They won that battle, but we the people will win the war," said Steve Baumann of Woodland, CA, a Veteran who served in the U.S. Marines from 1986-1990. (Photo of Steve in his uniform is posted here.)

       "My wife is a veteran, and I couldn't be more proud of her and her service. Today we're sending a clear message that we're not going to let Wells Fargo and other crooked banks keep ripping off consumers, including our military heroes and veterans. Wall Street may have won in Congress, but we're going to win in the end," said Linda Deos, a consumer attorney and Davis resident who specializes in representing consumers in bankruptcy cases.

       While some GOP Members of Congress have claimed that somehow forced arbitration is "better for consumers," those claims ring hollow, particularly since many of them voted to grant auto dealers a special exemption from the Federal Arbitration Act, restoring their right to sue auto manufacturers or anyone else they choose, in a court of law.

       GOP Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the leading proponent for giving car dealers that special exemption, is now the Chair of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, and voted against restoring the same rights to consumers that Congress granted to car dealers. At the time, he argued on the Senate Floor:

       "When mandatory binding arbitration is forced upon a party, for example when it is placed in a boiler-plate agreement, it deprives the weaker party the opportunity to elect another forum. As a proponent of arbitration I believe it is critical to ensure that the selection of arbitration is voluntary and fair. The purpose of arbitration is to reduce costly, time-consuming litigation, not to force a party to an adhesion contract to waive access to judicial or administrative forums for the pursuit of rights under State law….

       This legislation will go a long way toward ensuring that parties [car dealers] will not be forced into binding arbitration and thereby lose important statutory rights. I am confident that given its many advantages arbitration will often be elected. But it is essential for public policy reasons and basic fairness that both parties to this type of contract have the freedom to make their own decisions [whether to sue or not] based on the circumstances of the case." -- Senator Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa) Source: Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions, United States Senate, June 29, 2001.

       Video showing an active duty Army Sergeant, whose vehicle was illegally repossessed by Wells Fargo while he was serving in Iraq: http://www.kshb.com/news/local-news/investigations/wells-fargo-accused-of-unlawfully-repossessing-active-duty-servicemans-car
 
More information is posted at We DO Count.org
###

 
 
 
"Wells Fargo accused of unlawfully repossessing Service member's car while deployed"
41 Investigators uncover hundreds of cases
KSHB - TV Kansas City
by Jessica McMaster
September 25, 2017
 
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It's been six years since Army Sgt. Jin Nakamura was serving in a combat zone in Iraq.

After Sergeant Nakamura sued, Wells Fargo admitted that it had not even bothered to check the federal database to find out whether its customers were in the military and serving on active duty, before illegally seizing their cars, without any notice.
While fighting for his country, Nakamura learned he was about to be taking on a whole new battle back home.

"I was checking my credit history and saw that my car, I thought I was making payments to, was [repossessed]," Nakamura said. "I thought there was a mistake."

When Nakamura discovered the issue on his credit report, he said he contacted his lender, Wells Fargo, immediately.

"I tried to make the payment so I could have my car back when I got home," Nakamura said. "But, I found out they [Wells Fargo] auctioned my car a few days before."

Prior to deployment, Nakamura said he set up direct payments for his auto loan through Wells Fargo.

Wells Fargo didn't follow law, lawyer said

According to Nakamura, he was not given any warnings or notice that the payments were not going through.

Regardless of why Nakamura's auto loan defaulted, he and his attorney Bryce Bell said Wells Fargo broke the law by seizing his car....


Note: Sergeant Nakamura's contract with Wells Fargo -- from over 6 years ago -- did not include a "rip-off clause," so he remains free to sue Wells Fargo on behalf of himself and other military Servicemembers. But now Wells Fargo includes forced arbitration in all of its customer contracts, denying military Servicemembers the basic, fundamental Constitutional rights they fight to preserve, for all of us. Unlike a court of law, arbitration operates in secret and it's usually impossible to get discovery of telltale documents, like the ones that showed that Wells Fargo failed to even check the federal military database, as required by law, before seizing military Servicemembers' vehicles and auctioning them off.

These illegal practices are a threat to our national security. We ALL have a stake in ensuring that our military heroes and their families are not preyed upon by crooked banks.

When military Servicemembers are ripped off, and have financial readiness issues, they can lose their security clearances. When that happens, it not only harms them and their families, it also often means that we as a nation lose the benefit of their services, in extremely important and demanding capacities, where we desperately need them to do the jobs for which they were trained.


Watch video:
 
KSHB-TV Kansas City: "Wells Fargo accused of unlawfully repossessing Service member's car while deployed"
 
"Susan Collins misled by Wall Street to make it harder for fraud victims to sue big banks"
Bangor Daily News
OpEd by Lois R. Lupica
November 6, 2017
 
"On Oct. 24, Sen. Susan Collins rejected pleas from military groups and Mainers with her vote to block the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's arbitration rule. Her vote stripped Mainers of the choice of whether to arbitrate disputes or band together and sue financial giants like Wells Fargo and Equifax that cheat them.

Collins has long been an independent and thoughtful voice for Maine. But her reasoning echoed the deceptive claims that corporate lobbyists made against the rule all along.

I'm going to give Collins the benefit of the doubt that she was misled. But the facts about forced arbitration still matter because efforts to undo protections for defrauded students and seniors in nursing homes are pending, and many other Americans lose their right to their day in court every day.

False claim No. 1: The arbitration rule only benefits class action lawyers

Collins stated that trial lawyers would reap millions as a result of the rule "while plaintiffs would not have received a penny in the vast majority of those cases."

The Military Coalition, representing 5.5 million current and former servicemembers and their families, supported the arbitration rule, calling forced arbitration an "un-American system wherein servicemembers are funneled into a rigged, secretive system." A coalition of 29 military and veterans groups also opposed the effort to overturn the rule.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau studied 419 class actions and found $2.7 billion in relief over five years for consumers, with just 18 percent going to attorney's fees and expenses. That is, $2.2 billion, or 82 percent, went to consumers — a far cry from a penny. When banks cheat millions of people out of $100 each, it takes lawyers on consumers' side to fight back and, yes, they get paid more than $100 if they win — but only if they win.

False claim No. 2: The arbitration rule would have harmed small banks and credit unions

Before the vote, Collins expressed concern about the impact on credit unions and small financial institutions. Credit union lobbyists opposed the bill, despite strong evidence that credit unions in Maine and around the country don't deprive their customers of their day in court.

A survey of Maine credit unions and banks found not one Maine credit union or bank with under $100 billion in assets that uses forced arbitration in its deposit account or credit card agreements.

But Wall Street banks, which do use forced arbitration, were able to hide behind the credit unions.

False claim No. 3: Consumers fare better in arbitration than in class actions

Collins claimed that "Arbitration is often better for consumers. … [It] results in an average award of nearly $5,400." That misleading claim, created by Wall Street lobbyists, is based on only 16 consumers a year who pursue arbitration and win. Most lose. In the average arbitration case, including both losers and winners, the consumer has to pay the bank or company $7,725. The lobbyist's claim is like saying that the 2012 Boston Red Sox, who had a 69-93 record, "won by 5 runs on average."

Compared to 16 people who win each year in arbitration, more than 6 million have been eligible for relief in class actions, but we increasingly lose that choice.

It's not just consumers who lose their choice to have their day in court.

This fight was about consumers cheated by financial giants. But the Trump administration has proposed to restore "get-out-of-jail-free cards" for nursing homes, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is reconsidering protection for students left with debt from fraudulent for-profit schools.

Forced arbitration also harms women subject to sexual harassment at work and mom and pop small businesses.

Collins may have been misled by Wall Street lobbyists. But she can make up for her vote by supporting the Arbitration Fairness Act, which restores the choice of our day in court for consumers, employees and small businesses. The Constitution gives us the right to redress wrongs through trials by jury. Give us back that right.

Lois R. Lupica is the Maine Law Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Maine School of Law in Portland.

Read more: Susan Collins misled by Wall Street to make it harder for fraud victims to sue big banks
 
 

 
"By a single vote, Republicans throw out years of work on consumer protection"
The Los Angeles Times
By David Lazarus
October 25, 2017
 
It took the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau five years to adopt a rule on forced arbitration by banks and credit card companies — five years of research, meetings with industry officials, public comment and crafting regulatory language.

Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate this week to deny consumers the right to join class-action lawsuits against banks and credit card companies. (AP)
It took a single tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence for Republican lawmakers to overturn the rule this week, denying consumers the right to band together in class-action lawsuits over possibly unfair or illegal business practices.

"The repeal of the CFPB's arbitration rule reeked of the banking industry's heavy-handed influence over Washington's politicians," said Christine Hines, legislative director for the National Assn. of Consumer Advocates.

"Wall Street's power, including its tens of millions in donations to campaign coffers, made it easy for Senate Republicans to choose big banks and predatory lenders over the rights of their own constituents," she said.

Or as Merriam-Webster puts it:

Plutocracy / noun / plu·toc·ra·cy / plü-ˈtä-krə-sē: 1. government by the wealthy 2. a controlling class of the wealthy.

The business community has lobbied fiercely for limits to class-action lawsuits that can lead to multimillion-dollar judgments or settlements.

What's particularly repulsive here is the shamelessness with which conservatives framed the debate — pretending they were saving consumers from rapacious trial lawyers rather than doing the bidding of deep-pocketed corporate backers.

They also repeatedly painted the CFPB as a "rogue agency" that was unaccountable to the American people.

The reality is that the only ones going rogue were Republican members of Congress....


Within two weeks of the bureau adopting its rule, the House voted to repeal the measure using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to overturn any rule written by a federal agency within 60 legislative days with just a simple majority vote. The Senate followed suit on Tuesday.

Before President Trump took office, the 21-year-old law was used only once, during the early days of President George W. Bush's administration.

Prior to this week's Senate vote, the Treasury Department took the remarkable step of issuing a report criticizing the arbitration rule as being anti-consumer.

The Treasury report was released Monday. Yet by a miraculous bending of the time-space continuum, it was cited a day earlier in a Wall Street Journal editorial concluding that the bureau's rule was "arbitrary and capricious," and that it "benefits no one but the lawyers who donate to Democrats."

Almost as if the Trump administration leaked the report to sway public opinion.

Do some class-action lawyers game the legal system for their own benefit? Absolutely. Do they often walk away with a big chunk of any settlement cash? Of course.

Here's the thing: At least class actions provide something for plaintiffs. Arbitration often provides bupkis, which is probably why businesses are so enamored of it.

They're also one of the most effective ways of holding companies accountable for bad deeds. A $100 arbitration payment won't cause much of a ripple. a $100-million class-action settlement will make an impression.

Still, all this talk of lawyers is misdirection. The real point is how best to protect consumers from greedy banks. The CFPB, after years of testimony, research and analysis, concluded that class actions should be one possible recourse.

As soon as Trump signs off on Congress' repeal bill, the Republican Party will have ensured that businesses maintain the upper hand in any dispute.

Oxford Dictionaries has a word for that:

Screwed / adjective / skroōd: in a difficult or hopeless situation; ruined or broken.

Read more:
 
Los Angeles Times: "By a single vote, Republicans throw out years of work on consumer protection"
 
"5 things Wells Fargo Bank account victims should do"
Bankrate.com
August 16, 2017
 
"Consider switching banks"
 
 
"If you've been a loyal Wells Fargo customer for decades, maybe you're ready for a fresh start.

Smaller banks and credit unions are less likely to force dissatisfied customers to use arbitration to resolve problems. Leaving your big bank may also lower the amount of fees you pay and give you higher yields on CDs and savings accounts.

'You're probably better off just going to a credit union or a community bank in your area where it would be unusual for you to encounter the kinds of monthly maintenance fees that the giant banks commonly charge,' Ridout says. 'And you probably would get a lot more from your savings.' "

Read more: "5 things Wells Fargo account victims should do"
 
"Wells Fargo Customer: It felt like my car was held as extortion"
CNN
August 8, 2017
 
"Imagine keeping up with your Wells Fargo car loan payment every month -- but having your vehicle repossessed anyway. That's exactly what Samir Hanef said happened to him.

'My car was held as extortion and I was forced to pay for Wells Fargo's mistake,' Hanef told CNNMoney.

'The stress and anxiety ... are truly indescribable,' said the clinical social worker from Durham, North Carolina.

Hanef is a victim in the latest Wells Fargo scandal. He is one of up to 570,000 auto loan borrowers that Wells Fargo has said it may have enrolled and charged for car insurance without their knowledge. Wells Fargo has admitted that as many as 20,000 of those customers may have defaulted on their car loans or had their vehicles repossessed in part due to these unnecessary insurance costs.

Related: Wells Fargo may have forced 570,000 into unneeded auto insurance
 
Unlike most big banks, Wells Fargo's auto loan contracts allowed the lender to obtain collateral protection insurance on a customer's behalf if they failed to buy liability coverage themselves. Wells Fargo conceded that it bought insurance for some customers -- and charged them for it -- even when they had their own....

Samir Hanef's family and his Honda Civic.
Hanef, a Wells Fargo customer for 23 years, said he took out a Wells Fargo auto loan in June 2014 to purchase a used Honda Civic. To be safe, Hanef said he always paid $300 per month, even though the bill was only $280.

The problem was that starting around March 2016, Wells Fargo raised his monthly bill to $374 because it added the collateral protection insurance. Hanef insists he had auto insurance, so there was no need for Wells Fargo to charge him for more....

He didn't know there was a problem until it was too late. Hanef's Honda Civic was repossessed on December 27, 2016, according to a letter sent by Wells Fargo to Hanef and viewed by CNNMoney. Losing his car meant that Hanef missed work and inconvenienced his patients, many of whom have mental health and substance abuse problems.

Before he got his car back on January 10, 2017, Hanef said he was forced to pay the repo fee and get current on the loan -- or risk losing the car for good.

'They told me the car would be sold on auction if I didn't pay the ransom,' Hanef said."

Read more:
 
CNN report: "Wells Fargo Customer: It felt like my car was held as extortion"
 
"On people's right to sue, Trump's hypocrisy matches that of business"
Los Angeles Times
By David Lazarus
August 4, 2017
 
"Donald Trump has been party to nearly 4,100 lawsuits over the last three decades. About half the time he was the one doing the suing; the other half he was the one being sued.

But what makes Trump a complete hypocrite on this score — and aligns him with the business world — is that although he's never hesitated to use the legal system to protect his own interests, he's denied his employees and campaign workers the same right, requiring instead that they take any disputes to private arbitration.

President Trump has sued over and over again, but is attacking your right to defend your interests in a court of law, against crooked banks
This is worth noting in light of Corey Lewandowski, Trump's former campaign manager and current advisor, taking to the airwaves the other day to call on the president's new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, to sack the head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau....

What's really going on here has more to do with Cordray having recently announced a rule that would make it easier for consumers to band together in class-action lawsuits against financial firms.

The rule is radioactive to banks, credit card companies and other lenders because, like Trump when he was running his businesses, these firms routinely include mandatory arbitration provisions in their contracts, forcing people to privately arbitrate rather than have a day in court.

Many businesses prefer arbitration because the process tends to be more favorable to companies than to consumers. Not coincidentally, businesses pay arbitrators' fees to decide cases.

Also, no business is willing to give up its own right to sue, which belies companies' argument that arbitration is more effective than litigation....

If Trump were half the populist he makes himself out to be, he'd embrace the CFPB's rule, which says a mandatory arbitration clause can't be used to deny customers of financial firms their right to join class-actions.

However, Trump clearly has no interest in a level playing field...."

Read more: LA Times Column: On people's right to sue, Trump's hypocrisy matches that of businesses.
 
Wells Fargo scams small businesses
The Consumerist
August 11, 2017
 
"The scandals and accusations continue to mount for Wells Fargo. This time, the banking giant is being accused of overcharging small businesses to process credit card transactions.

In a potential class action filed earlier this month in a New York federal court, a restaurant owner from Pennsylvania and a North Carolina tour company allege that Wells Fargo's Merchant Business Services operates an "overbilling scheme" that charged excessive and undisclosed credit card processing fees, along with 'massive early termination fees' the merchants tried to end their relationships with the bank.

According to the lawsuit, Wells misled prospective customers about the fees they would be charged for the card-processing service....

In the case of Pennsylvania-based Patti's Pitas, the restaurant claims that Wells Fargo charged it with 'exponentially more fees' that were not outlined in the fee schedule or program guide. These fees, the suit notes, often totaled hundred of dollars each month."

Read more:
 
The Consumerist: "Wells Fargo accused of overcharging small businesses"
 
 
GOP Congress sides with Wall Street crooks,
Attacks consumers, workers, and our military heroes
and their families
 
Bought a car? Got a cell phone? Been to the doctor? Got a job? Purchased products online? Have a credit card? You may be in for a very rude surprise. Chances are when you signed the contract, you surrendered your Constitutional right to take the business to court, no matter how many laws they break.

No matter whether they rip you off for $40 or $40,000. Even if they deliberately plot, scheme, and exploit their special access to your personal information to rip you off along with 3 or 4 million other customers -- engaging in a widespread practice of illicit conduct. That is because those contracts almost always contain "forced arbitration" clauses hidden in the fine print.

"Forced arbitration" means:
  • You do not get to choose whether to use arbitration or go to court.
  • You have to submit any dispute to a private process that is rigged against you.
  • Courts are open to the public. But arbitration operates in secret. The secrecy shields crooks and predators and enables the illegal behavior to keep on happening.
  • The company that cheated you and broke the law gets to choose the arbitrators.
  • Who pays the arbitrators? Usually, it's the very same company that cheated you.
  • The kicker: the arbitrators are perfectly free to ignore the law.
  • Bottom line: Forced arbitration takes away your Constitutional right to haul the wrongdoers into court, and get a fair hearing before an impartial judge or jury, where the law is applied.
 
This is infuriating and downright Un-American. But it may be about to change, thanks to a new rule, issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, that will restore your right to haul wrongdoers into court and protect yourself from illegal activity such as identity theft, forgery, fake accounts, excessive overdraft fees, and other types of fraud. Not surprisingly, the new rule is already under attack from Wall Street crooks and the Republicans, who receive vast amounts of campaign funds from Wall Street.

President Trump sent a memo to Congress expressing his eagerness to sign the anti-consumer Resolution. The Republican Members of the U.S. House recently voted in favor of crooked big banks including Wells Fargo, and against consumers, workers, faith-based organizations, and organizations that represent millions of active duty military Servicemembers and veterans and their families. The next vote will be in the U.S. Senate.
 
The federal agency the GOP hates the most:
the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
 
Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) championed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The CFPB has forced crooked banks to return over $12 billion to consumers victimized by illegal practices.
 
"This CFPB rule will allow working families to hold big banks accountable when they're cheated and help discourage the kinds of surprise fees that consumers hate. In the upcoming months, the US Chamber of Commerce and other big business lobbying groups will go all out to get Republicans in Congress to reverse this rule, so Republicans will have to decide whether to defend the interests of their constituents or shield a handful of wealthy donors from accountability."
- Senator Elizabeth Warren
 
 
Not surprisingly, companies that commonly break the law LOVE forced arbitration. For example, Wells Fargo engaged in widespread identity theft and forgery, and made enormous profits from fake accounts set up without its customers' awareness or permission. Despite all the bad press, Wells Fargo refuses to free its customers from forced arbitration. Why? Because Wells Fargo would have to return vast sums to its victims if they could take the bank to court. Plus its victims could get their hands on incriminating emails and possibly win a permanent injunction that would forbid Wells Fargo to engage in the same illegal conduct in the future.

According to the Los Angeles Times, "Here's why Wells Fargo forces its customers into arbitration: It wins most of the time."

Plus, Wells Fargo is Trying to Bury Another Massive Scandal. Wells Fargo rigged the timing of when its customers were hit with overdraft fees, to maximize the penalties they had to pay the bank. This is an extremely profitable form of deception and fraud. A recent report found that since 2009, only 215 of Wells Fargo's customers pursued claims against the bank in arbitration. During that time, Wells Fargo created over 3.5 million fake accounts. Forced arbitration is not just another way of resolving disputes. In the real world, it usually stymies victims from getting any justice at all.

But that may change soon. Thanks to a new rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, we may get back our right to fight back if we are ripped off, and stop illegal activity. But only if we can win the battle raging in Congress right now.
 
Marine Corps vet based in Arkansas:
Forced arbitration is un-American

Opinion:
Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette
By Robert Mitchell, Marine Veteran
July 31, 2017
 
"The lenders, big banks, and huge corporate employers take away the constitutional rights of military and millions of other Americans to go to court. Corporations also tell their own customers that they can't band together against them in class actions. Instead, individuals must go to a secretive process called arbitration, run by a private arbitrator who makes the decisions and likely receives repeat business from the big corporations. It is as unfair as it seems. This is an un-American way for us--military, civilians, and big business--to civilly resolve disputes. The U.S. Constitution provides the right to access open, public courts in our state and federal systems. And we should not be denied the right to use them."

Read more: Arkansas Democrat Gazette: Marine Corps vet based in Arkansas: Forced arbitration is un-American
 
 
While much of the news is focused on the battle over health care, and the investigation into Russia's meddling with our democracy, GOP members of Congress are taking aim at undoing a new rule issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau that will free consumers to sue banks, auto lenders, and other financial institutions that rip them off.

If Wells Fargo and other crooked banks win, it will be "open season" on consumers, including our military heroes and their families.

Read more:

Washington Post: Republicans are working to keep you from your day in court

House tees up vote to undo CFPB arbitration rule

Former Judge / Attorney General of Idaho: Forced arbitration is unjust

Baltimore Sun - Op-Ed: Even if you win in arbitration, you still lose

The Consumerist (published by Consumer Reports): Don't strip consumers of their right to a day in court
 
GOP Arbitration Hypocrisy
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) led efforts in Congress so that car dealers can sue, but denies consumers the same rights.
 
What did Republicans say about arbitration before, when they were granting car dealers a special exemption from forced arbitration?

Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, presented a bill in Congress to restore car dealers' freedoms, so they could sue giant auto manufacturers in court. Then, he said:
"When mandatory binding arbitration is forced upon a party, for example when it is placed in a boiler-plate agreement, it deprives the weaker party the opportunity to elect another forum. As a proponent of arbitration I believe it is critical to ensure that the selection of arbitration is voluntary and fair. The purpose of arbitration is to reduce costly, time-consuming litigation, not to force a party to an adhesion contract to waive access to judicial or administrative forums for the pursuit of rights under State law."

"This legislation will go a long way toward ensuring that parties [car dealers] will not be forced into binding arbitration and thereby lose important statutory rights. I am confident that given its many advantages arbitration will often be elected. But it is essential for public policy reasons and basic fairness that both parties to this type of contract have the freedom to make their own decisions [whether to sue or not] based on the circumstances of the case." -- Senator Chuck Grassley, (R-Iowa)

Source: Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions, United States Senate, June 29, 2001.
What happens in arbitration?
Here's what happened to one consumer, Jon Perz, who was forced to surrender his rights when he bought a used car from a car dealership in San Diego, CA. Businesses often claim arbitration is quicker than going to court. But because of forced arbitration, he had to wait over 8 years to get justice. Meanwhile he couldn't drive his car because it was too unsafe.

Many more people have had nightmarish experiences because of forced arbitration.
 
Debbie not only lost in arbitration, but she and other students were ordered to pay $350,000 in the college's attorney's fees.
"Debbie graduated with a degree from a major university in Cellular Biology/Physiology. She wanted a career caring for people and decided to further her education so that she could become a surgical technician. Lamson College, a local school in Tempe, Ariz. owned by Delta Career Education Corporation, seemed to be a good fit because it claimed it had an accredited program and made many promises about the demand for its students upon graduation. But as Debbie reported, during an informational session, potential students were pressured to apply on the spot and many signed the papers they were handed. Little did Debbie and her fellow students realize that they had signed away their ability to hold Lamson accountable and keep their finances safe."


Read more: Arbitration clause turns education dream into a nightmare

 
A Soldier returns from duty, and finds his job is gone.
Javier served our nation proudly. Then his employer refused to re-hire him - violating the law.
This is illegal. But forced arbitration keeps our military heroes from getting justice, or their jobs back.

"It's hard to imagine a group of Americans more deserving of our protection than the servicemen and women who protect our country. Javier, an Army Reservist from Florida, is one of them. But Javier – like too many others – was a victim of something called forced arbitration, and the fact that he served our country apparently made little difference to those who employed him."
 
 
Read more:

Forced arbitration harms our nation's military heroes and their families
 

 
"Here's why Wells Fargo forces its customers into arbitration: It wins most of the time"
Los Angeles Times
By Michael Hiltzik
April 7, 2017
 
"The insistence by Wells Fargo that the victims of its bogus account-opening scandal seek redress via arbitration, rather than in court, remains the best indication that the bank’s promise to 'make things right' for those customers is fake.

A new study shows just how advantageous arbitration has been for Wells Fargo. Short answer: For the bank, it’s been great.

Wells Fargo -- the scene of the crime.
The study comes from Level Playing Field, an Arizona nonprofit that maintains a database of arbitration awards. The group mined records of 215 cases filed against Wells Fargo in 2009-2016 for its report. Its core finding is that of 48 consumer-initiated arbitration cases that resulted in a financial award, consumers won a documented victory in only seven, collecting a total of $349,549. The bank prevailed in 13 cases, collecting $485,208. Records for the other 28 cases don’t identify a winner, but in those cases Wells Fargo was awarded $519,458 by the arbitrators, while the consumers received only $82,527....

Arbitration statistics have their limitations, but those just explain further why forced arbitration tends to be anti-consumer. Unlike lawsuits, the cases aren’t public, so they yield almost no information about the nature of the customer complaints or their magnitude. It’s possible, for example, that banks settle cases they believe will go against them, and pursue to the end only cases they feel they’re likely to win. Of the 215 cases in the report database, 119 were settled before they reached an arbitrator, 25 were withdrawn by the plaintiff and 23 were dropped for other reasons. The absence of a public record may have allowed the Wells Fargo scandal to persist for years out of public view....

Wells Fargo’s policy of forcing aggrieved customers into arbitration has benefited the bank in other ways, beyond reducing its risk of payouts.

'The Wells Fargo situation illustrates exactly what is wrong with contemporary arbitration law,' says David Horton, an arbitration expert at UC Davis law school. Arbitration clauses typically are buried within account agreements, where customers’ eyes skate over them. The Wells Fargo clause covers not only the specific accounts being opened, but almost any disputes with the bank, even those involving 'broken promises … or other wrongful actions.'

Especially egregious, Horton says, are clauses in the Wells Fargo agreement and others that forbid customers to file class-action lawsuits or to band together with other customers in class actions in arbitration.

'There’s no question that requiring customers to pursue their claims individually means that fewer claims are brought,' Horton says, 'and companies like Wells Fargo aren’t deterred from violating the law.'"

Read more: Los Angeles Times: "Here's why Wells Fargo forces its customers into arbitration: It wins most of the time".

Fed up with Wells Fargo's abusing a system that's rigged against you? Make the switch! Say farewell to Wells Fargo. Here's how.

Read the full report, by Level Playing Field - commissioned by the CARS Foundation and also reviewed and confirmed by a researcher at UC Hastings College of Law.
 
"Wells Fargo tries, fails to explain why customers shouldn't be allowed to sue over fake accounts"
The Consumerist
By Chris Morran
March 1, 2017
 
"Wells Fargo has admitted that thousands of its employees opened fake, unauthorized accounts in customers’ names, but the bank is doing everything it can to prevent these wronged customers from having their day in court. We asked Wells Fargo to explain why it believes hundreds of thousands of Americans shouldn’t be allowed to exercise their constitutional right to sue. The bank’s response made little sense (unless you’re a Wells Fargo executive).

Last week, We Do Count, a coalition of consumer advocacy groups, wrote a letter [PDF] to Wells Fargo CEO urging the bank to stop using arbitration agreements to sidestep accountability.

“Consumers have no reason to believe that Wells Fargo is doing anything differently, when the bank still persists in depriving its customers and workers of their basic constitutional rights,” reads the letter, signed by nearly two dozen groups, including the Consumer Federation of California, National Consumer Law Center, and Public Citizen. “A change in culture does not mean doing the right thing only when it does not cost anything. It means doing the right thing, period. How can Wells Fargo claim to be doing the right thing when it continues to force customers it has wronged into giving up their constitutional rights – even in cases where the account in dispute was created through fraud, identity theft, and /or forgery?”

And the advocacy groups are not alone. At least six U.S. Senators have asked Wells to not force these lawsuits into arbitration.

So why does Wells Fargo — which has already admitted that this fraud occurred — insist on keeping these cases out of the court?"

Read more: The Consumerist: "Wells Fargo tries, fails to explain why customers shouldn't be allowed to sue over fake accounts".
 
 
 
 
 
NEWS for immediate release: Monday, February 27, 2017

Contact: Rosemary Shahan, CARS Foundation, 530-759-9440
               Joe Ridout, Consumer Action, 415-777-9648 ext. 705
               Carol McKay, National Consumers League, 412-945-3242, carolm@nclnet.org
 
 
Consumer / Activist Groups and Wells Fargo Victims Target Wells Fargo
over Forced Arbitration,
Release Letter to Wells Fargo CEO Sloan, Calling on Wells Fargo
To Stop Forcing Customers and Workers to Surrender Constitutional Rights
 
       In news events across the nation, in Washington, DC, and at Wells Fargo's headquarters in San Francisco, consumer and activist organizations closed their accounts with Wells Fargo, to protest the bank's refusal to stop imposing a "rip-off clause" forcing its customers and workers to surrender their constitutional rights, to obtain services or employment.

       The organizations also released a letter from a broad-based coalition of groups calling on Wells Fargo's CEO Sloan to cease forcing its customers and workers to submit to forced arbitration. The bank continues to resist calls from pro-consumer leaders such as Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Representative Maxine Waters (D-CA), and the editors of leading newspapers for the bank to free its customers and employees to pursue cases before a court of law, particularly regarding millions of accounts set up without their permission, through identity theft, forgery, and fraud.

       "After six years of banking with Wells Fargo, we're switching to another bank that respects the the constitutional rights of its customers and workers," said Sally Greenberg, Executive Director of the National Consumers League, based in Washington, DC. The League already established a new account at Bank of Labor, which does not impose forced arbitration, and is closing its account at Wells Fargo, withdrawing its working capital, of approximately $1.8 million.

       The GOP-controlled Congress and the Trump administration are threatening to fire Richard Cordray, the Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, who has a long record of protecting consumers. Under his leadership, the CFPB has succeeded in forcing banks to refund over $11.8 billion to consumers who were wronged.

       "They want to replace Richard Cordray with someone who will let crooked banks like Wells Fargo get away with charging consumers billions of dollars through engaging in illegal practices. So it's up to each of us to act, to protect ourselves and also send the message we won't tolerate crooked bankers," said Rosemary Shahan, President of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation. The group unveiled a new website, at "We DO Count.org" focusing on the campaign to make the switch from Wells Fargo to more consumer-friendly banks or credit unions.
 
 
 
 
 
       "Wells Fargo opened up a credit card account without my authorization, and it ended up harming my credit and making many purchases, like a car, and even utilities a lot more expensive, for about five years," said Aaron Brodie, who was a freshman college student when Wells Fargo opened a credit card account without his permission, then refused to close it, after he requested that it be closed. He has sued Wells Fargo, and instead of doing what is right, Wells Fargo is seeking to force his case into arbitration.

       "As long as Wells Fargo requires mandatory arbitration, there is nothing to stop Wells Fargo from violating the privacy rights of its customers and engaging in fraud," said Byron Cooper, who closed his accounts with Wells Fargo as soon as he discovered the bank had opened two new accounts and shifted $25,000 from his checking account to his savings account -- all without his authorization, and despite his insistence he did not want the new accounts. The bank also changed his "free" checking account to one that charged $30 per month and required a minimum balance of $25,000 -- also without his permission.

       Joe Ridout, Consumer Services Manager for Consumer Action, personally hand-delivered the letter to the bank's headquarters in San Francisco. Consumer Action also provided tips for consumers about how to find a banking institution or credit union that does not impose forced arbitration on its customers and workers, and also how to make the transition smoothly so that no payments are missed. "We believe many consumers will be pleasantly surprised to discover the higher interest they earn, and the fewer fees and abusive practices they face, once they switch to a more honest financial institution," said Ridout.

       Most credit unions don't require arbitration. In 2015, the Pew Charitable Trust released a report that provides comparisons of banks, including whether they impose forced arbitration. While some of the policies may have changed, that report provides helpful guidance for choosing options that don't impose arbitration.

Links to relevant documents:

Coalition Letter to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan

"Wells Fargo Victims Deserve Their Day In Court," Sacramento Bee Editorial, December 8, 2016

"Wells Fargo Blocks the Courthouse Door," Des Moines Register Editorial, December 4, 2016

Consumer Action's Tips for Consumers: How to Make the Switch from Wells Fargo

"Checks and Balances" by Pew Charitable Trust, May 2015


###

 
 
 
Letter to Wells Fargo CEO Timothy Sloan, hand-delivered to Wells Fargo Headquarters In San Francisco by Joe Ridout of Consumer Action
on Friday, February 24, 2017:
 
 
 
 
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of California
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation
Courage Campaign
ForgoWells
Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
Level Playing Field
Make the Road New York
Montana Organizing Project
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Consumers League
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
Public Citizen
Public Good
Public Justice
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Tennessee Citizen Action
TURN – The Utility Reform Network
Workplace Fairness
 
 
February 24, 2017

Mr. Timothy Sloan, Chief Executive Officer
Wells Fargo
420 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA 94104


Dear Mr. Sloan:

       On behalf of the above-listed organizations, we write to request that Wells Fargo immediately cease its use of forced arbitration "ripoff clauses" to deny customers and workers their constitutional right to obtain justice before a court of law.

       After repeatedly engaging in illegal activities involving millions of its customers, the bank has an obvious interest in repairing its damaged reputation. The public would reasonably expect that Wells Fargo would be eager to take the obvious step of allowing its customers to obtain redress for those violations as easily and efficiently as possible. Instead, it appears that the bank remains entrenched in its view that forced arbitration is so important to the bank's operations that even in the midst of scandal it refuses to restore to consumers and employees a basic constitutional right. This reasoning seems to us deeply miscalculated. It disserves your customers, it continues to harm your reputation, and it compels
 
 
 
 
 
us to continue to call on people across this nation who value their constitutional rights to close their accounts with Wells Fargo, and on institutions that respect those rights to divest from the bank.

       The illegal activities in which Wells Fargo has engaged are not limited to the fraud scandal that captured headlines several months ago. Rather, the bank's violations of the law constitute a pattern of disregard for basic consumer protections. Among those activities are the following:
 
  • Creating roughly 2 million bogus accounts through fraud, identity theft, and / or forgery, causing many victims to suffer significant losses and negative financial consequences, sticking them with nearly $2.5 million in fraudulent fees, and often also harming their credit.
     
  • Illegally repossessing at least 413 vehicles from members of the United States Armed Forces and their families, from 2006 through 2015, while those servicemembers were serving on active duty in defense of our nation – without obtaining a court order, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This practice was particularly reprehensible, because servicemembers often are assigned to duty in war zones where their expertise is invaluable for our national security. Repossessions can result in a loss of security clearances, costing our nation desperately needed services by highly trained military personnel.
     
  • Illegally foreclosing on homes purchased by 239 members of the United States Armed Forces and their families, while those servicemembers were serving on active duty – again without obtaining a court order, in violation of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act. This practice is also particularly troubling given its negative impact on our national security, particularly when such practices cause a loss not only of homes, but of security clearances and future job prospects. Wells Fargo was compelled by the U.S. Department of Justice to pay over $28.3 million in relief to the servicemembers and their co-borrowers.
     
  • Engaging in unfair and deceptive practices to maximize the penalties and fees paid by customers to Wells Fargo, by manipulating the chronology of when debits and checks were assessed, costing customers in California alone approximately $203 million in excessive penalties and fees. After a judge awarded refunds to victims of the bank's illegal practices, Wells Fargo continued to litigate and tried to force victims' claims into arbitration, taking their case all the way to the United States Supreme Court. The bank delayed justice for Wells Fargo customers for over ten years, until all avenues for litigation ended and their victims finally won, obtaining $203 million in refunds.
     
There is a common thread in these cases, and it is a disregard for customers' rights when there is a potential impact on the bank's bottom line. Consumers have no reason to believe that Wells Fargo is doing anything differently, when the bank still persists in depriving its customers and workers of their basic constitutional rights. A change in culture does not mean doing the right thing only when it does not cost anything. It means doing the right thing, period. How can Wells Fargo claim to be doing the right thing when it continues to force customers it has wronged into giving up their constitutional rights – even in cases where the account in dispute was created through fraud, identity theft, and /or forgery?

       As the Des Moines Register recently editorialized, after you met with the editors:
 
 
 
 
         "When Wells Fargo's news CEO, Timothy Sloan, met with the Des Moines Register's Editorial Board a few weeks ago, he said the bank intends to do everything it can to win back the trust of its customers…

       "Unfortunately, Sloan made clear in his discussion with the Register that one thing the bank won't consider in its efforts to "make it right" is waiving the contractual requirement that forces customers to take any and all grievances to private arbitration rather than to court. In fact, Wells Fargo recently took the formal step of asking a federal court to disallow the claims of dozens of customers who are attempting to have their case heard by a judge in a court of law.

       "The problem is that arbitration denies customers the legal protections normally afforded through court proceedings, such as the right to appeal. And because arbitration hearings and the evidence they produce are not open to the public, arbitration also helps to conceal widespread, corporate-level misconduct from other potential litigants, as well as from other customers and regulators.

       ...if Wells Fargo is sincere about atoning for its actions and doing the right thing for its customers, it will reverse course and voluntarily waive the arbitration requirement, allowing the people who were victimized by its practices to have their complaints heard in open court." 1

       And, as the Sacramento Bee editorialized:

"As if the rip-off of some 2 million customers weren't enough for Wells Fargo & Co., it turns out that the bank is trying to deprive its victims of their days in court….Wells Fargo has been arguing in federal and state courts that the wronged customers should have to argue their cases, not in public, but in private arbitration.

       "It's a cynical ploy, and destructive to the public trust and the legal system. Forced private arbitration...often tilts contractual arrangements in favor of corporate interests and deprives the public of important consumer information and case law.

       "Companies like it because it keeps bad publicity out of the public record, stymies potential class actions and improves the odds of favorable decisions; private paid judges know that companies often give repeat business to arbitrators who give favorable rulings. Consumers are at a disadvantage in what has come to amount to a shadow system of civil justice….

       "In the Wells Fargo case, the push is particularly reprehensible...the bank claims that those [arbitration] waivers apply to the legitimate accounts, and to the fake ones, even though the signatures were forged in many cases. It's a scam on top of a scam..." 2

       We are plainly not alone in our concern about Wells Fargo's continuing practice of forcing its employees and customers to surrender their constitutional rights as a condition of employment or
1 Editorial: "Wells Fargo blocks the courthouse door," Editorial, Des Moines Register, December 4, 2016. Posted at:
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/editorials/2016/12/04/editorial-wells-fargo-blocks-courthousedoor/94811490/

2 Editorial: "Wells Fargo victims deserve day in court," Sacramento Bee, December 9, 2016. Posted at:
http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/editorials/article119768343.html
 
 
 
 
  services. Forced arbitration is not a sign of respect for an employee or customer; it is the opposite. It also allows Wells Fargo to perpetuate a cover-up of its illegal practices.

       As the current Chairman of the United States Senate Judiciary Committee, Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa), stated in presenting legislation in Congress to restore protections from forced arbitration for auto dealers, granting them a special exemption from the Federal Arbitration Act:

       "When mandatory binding arbitration is forced upon a party, for example when it is placed in a boiler-plate agreement, it deprives the weaker party the opportunity to elect another forum. As a proponent of arbitration I believe it is critical to ensure that the selection of arbitration is voluntary and fair. The purpose of arbitration is to reduce costly, time-consuming litigation, not to force a party to an adhesion contract to waive access to judicial or administrative forums for the pursuit of rights under State law.

       "This legislation will go a long way toward ensuring that parties will not be forced into binding arbitration and thereby lose important statutory rights. I am confident that given its many advantages arbitration will often be elected. But it is essential for public policy reasons and basic fairness that both parties to this type of contract have the freedom to make their own decisions based on the circumstances of the case." 3

       Clearly the same principles apply to individual consumers and workers, who have vastly unequal bargaining power when entering into contracts with lending institutions as large as Wells Fargo.

       We call on Wells Fargo to do the right thing, and to immediately cease using forced arbitration clauses in its consumer and employment contracts. A number of competing banks and credit unions already have decided to respect their customers and workers, and not to deny them their constitutional rights. Until Wells Fargo ends its practice of depriving its customers and workers of their constitutional rights as a condition of obtaining products, services, or employment, we will continue to call upon all Americans who value those rights to close their accounts with the bank, and all institutions to divest from Wells Fargo.

       In order to reply to this letter, please contact: Rosemary Shahan, President of the Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation. We look forward to your prompt action to restore precious, fundamental constitutional rights to your customers and employees.

       Sincerely,
 
Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment
Consumer Action
Consumer Federation of California
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety (CARS) Foundation
Courage Campaign
ForgoWells
Homeowners Against Deficient Dwellings
Housing and Economic Rights Advocates
Level Playing Field

3 Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions, United States Senate, June 29, 2001. Statement by Senator Grassley of Iowa.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Make the Road New York
Montana Organizing Project
National Association of Consumer Advocates
National Consumers League
National Consumer Law Center (on behalf of its low-income clients)
Public Citizen
Public Good
Public Justice
Progressive Congress Action Fund
Tennessee Citizen Action
TURN – The Utility Reform Network
Workplace Fairness