Poll: Most In Favor of Consumer Financial Protection Agency

A common banking industry argument against the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA) is that the agency would restrict consumer choice. According to a new poll from the Consumer Federation of America (CFA), Americans have already made a choice: they want more financial protections—and a new federal agency to enforce them.

Even in a country where skepticism about government intervention crosses socioeconomic barriers, 57% of Americans support the creation of a “new federal agency to protect consumers who purchase banking and other financial products and services.” This approval was highest among groups who are often the victims of deceptive-by-design financial products: African Americans (79%), Latinos (70%), young adults under 35 (70%), and low-wealth persons (69%).  These groups know firsthand why the need for a single financial services watchdog is so pressing.

Other findings from the poll support measures that the CFPA would have the power to implement:

·    89 percent support (82 percent strongly support) requiring banks to disclose all mortgage fees upfront, clearly and conspicuously.
·    67 percent support (58 percent strongly support) prohibiting banks from charging substantial penalties to borrowers who pay off mortgages early.
·    85 percent support (73 percent strongly support) requiring banks to disclose, on the ATM screen, that a withdrawal will overdraw an account.
·    71 percent support (44 percent strongly support) requiring banks to gain the permission of customers before routinely providing loans to cover these overdrafts.

Clearly, most Americans support both the spirit and the letter of the CFPA law. Unfortunately, the financial services industry is spending millions of dollars to convince Congress to act against most Americans’ wishes and shoot down the CFPA. Individuals need to contact their legislators and let them know they support consumer protections in order to prevent the financial industry from gutting the agency of any real enforcement powers. 

Read more Woodstock work on the CFPA: