The Erosion of Consumer Protection

As consumers, we have the right to be protected and feel confident about where our money goes as well as any of our personal data. Even if some of the “smartest” consumers are mindful about every purchase they make, read all the small print, and do extensive research, there’s always the risk of being a victim of fraud, being injured, or losing one’s identity or money.

Thanks to agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), we are more protected and informed consumers; at least for now.

What’s Happening To Our Protection As Consumers?

Eight years ago, when the financial crisis struck, the CFPB was created, and many of us breathed a collective sigh of relief. As consumers, we were being taken care of; the CFPB was designed to keep us safe, not the banks and other big financial corporations.

Today, under the Trump Administration and Mike Mulvaney heading the CFPB, we will see our protection, as consumers, wither away. Why? A majority of the Republicans believe that the CFPB is a waste of time, money, and resources; Mulvaney calls it a joke. With a Republican-run administration and Congress, we aren’t like to see our protection improve.

Right now under Mulvaney’s guidance, the enforcement of the CFPB has slowed down considerably. While Mulvaney says that the bureau is currently handling about 100 investigations, with approximately 25 lawsuits pending, not much action or enforcement is happening.

So, what is “no action?” Remember when the CFPB was able to return more than $700 million to Bank of America users? Right now, consumers aren’t being awarded any money that is rightfully theirs.

What Does This “Inaction” Mean For Our Future?

Consumer Protection

Source: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash

While the CFPB may not completely disappear, most consumers are likely to face more financial threats, falling victim to fraudulent activities, and losing consumer rights. If you’ve lost money, don’t expect to get full compensation (if any).

How might the downfall of CFPB affect other consumer rights? Consider the Lemon Laws. When you buy a car that ends up being a lemon (full of issues and inoperable), there are laws, aka “Lemon Laws,” that are designed to protect you as the consumer.

Take a look at California, as an example. According to the Lemon law statute, California Civil Code § 1793.2 et seq, the law applies to new motor vehicles (for personal use) that were purchased or leased in California.

Anyone who purchased an eligible vehicle with defects that are covered by the manufacturer’s warranty and during the “coverage period,” are protected consumers; keep in mind that Lemon Laws vary in every state.

Since lawmakers get to decide how a Lemon Law works, it may only be a matter of time that many consumers lose even more rights and protections, especially if the belief that consumers should be protected is slowly changing.

What Can We Do As Consumers?

As we encounter many unknowns when it comes to consumer protection, the best thing we can do as consumers is to be vigilant about our personal data, about where and how our money is spent, stay up-to-date on consumer news, keep good records, and voice our concerns to Congress.

Author: Matt Rhoney