Federal Banking Regulatory Reform

Banking regulations can have a huge impact on the financial services options available to low-wealth communities and communities of color. Woodstock Institute educates community groups on regulatory issues and regularly comments on pending regulatory proposals.

Woodstock Institute Theory of Change graphic
April 20, 2016

In this first part of our Theory of Change series of blog posts and images, Woodstock President Dory Rand explains the ways in which Woodstock Institute is working to achieve our mission of creating a just financial system in which lower-wealth people and communities, and people and communities of color, can achieve economic security and community prosperity. In this series, our research and policy staff will discuss the strategies we use to effect positive, lasting financial systems change. 

May 21, 2015

A proposal to relax federal standards in mortgage lending and bank regulation could undo years of work to enhance consumer protections and prevent financial crises. U.S. Senate Banking Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) proposed legislation that would change criteria used to define big banks, sharply reducing the number of banks that would fall under federal regulation, as well as loosen mortgage lending standards. The proposal will be marked up tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. CT. Woodstock Institute is firmly opposed to these proposed changes.

November 21, 2014

By Juliette Fairley 

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Some 50% of Americans who fall into overdraft do so, because they don’t know their account balance, according to a recent survey from GoBankingRates. That lack of knowledge is extra dangerous when it comes to the overdraft policies of banks, and consumer advocates are fighting back to end these misleading overdraft bank policies that prey on consumers. 

November 6, 2014
This letter to prudential financial regulators urges them to strengthen their proposed revisions to the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) Questions and Answers (Q&As) regarding retail banking and community development in order to ensure that financial institutions adequately meet the needs of...
October 29, 2014

Mortgage data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) allows researchers and advocates to examine trends in the mortgage and housing market and, more importantly, detect patterns of discrimination.

October 29, 2014
This letter commends the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) for proposing rules that expand the reporting requirements for the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA). The letter urges the CFPB to further strengthen the rules by separately reporting cash-out and rate- and term-refinances,...
October 28, 2014
This letter to the Federal Housing Finance Agency affirms the importance of creating strong affordable housing goals for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to promote access to mortgage credit for lower-wealth borrowers. It urges the FHFA to strengthen the affordable housing goals by adopting...
September 15, 2014
This letter supports a proposal from the CFPB to publish consumer complaint narratives as part of its public consumer complaint database. The letter urges the CFPB to strengthen the proposal by providing more information to users when asking for their consent to publish their narrative; publishing...
August 11, 2014

By Herb Weisbaum

Checking accounts—and the debit cards that come with them—should be a simple and straightforward way to handle routine financial transactions. And yet, many people simply don't understand the overdraft policies at their bank or credit union.

August 5, 2014

By Kevin Wack

For the last four years, U.S. regulators have been requiring banks to offer their customers a choice on overdraft fees. And in response, most consumers have opted not to run the risk of incurring large fees in exchange for the ability to spend more than they have.

August 4, 2014

Results of mystery shopping conducted by Woodstock Institute and allies in four cities across the country reveal that banks often provide confusing and inaccurate information to consumers about overdraft programs and fees for checking accounts. The report released today by California Reinvestment Coalition of Oakland, CA; New Economy Project of New York City, NY; Reinvestment Partners of Durham, NC; and Woodstock Institute of Chicago, IL, calls on federal banking regulators and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to strengthen consumer protections for all overdraft products and improve oversight of banks who offer overdraft products.

August 1, 2014

This report investigated whether large banks provide accurate and full information on overdraft products and services (“overdraft”); whether the information varied based on a person’s race, ethnicity, or gender, or based on neighborhood; and whether the information was provided without undue pressure or steering to costly products.


July 21, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is blowing out the candles on its third birthday cake today, and I hope their hard-working staff is taking a moment to celebrate a job well done. They’ve made substantial progress towards their mission of “making financial markets work for American consumers — whether they’re applying for a mortgage, borrowing for college, choosing a credit card, or using any number of other consumer financial products.”

July 9, 2014
Activists in Chicago are using the power of the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) to ensure that U.S. Bank NA, lives up to its commitments to Blacks and Latinos as they aim to acquire Chicago-area branches of RBS Citizens/Charter One Bank.
July 9, 2014
Credit unions have received a heightened profile over the past 12 months, but will they be a simple replacement for payday lenders?
June 6, 2014

The House of Representatives’ Oversight Committee last week called for an end to a critical Department of Justice (DOJ) anti-fraud investigation called “Operation Choke Point.” Eliminating the operation could hamper DOJ’s ability to prevent the financial abuse of some of the most financially vulnerable consumers.

May 28, 2014

You may have heard about the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), but what can it do for you and your constituents?

May 14, 2014
Six years after the financial collapse of 2008, the fight to rebuild our communities has not ended.
April 15, 2014

The Illinois House last week took the first step towards ensuring that workers who receive their wages on payroll cards are protected from deceptive fees that can eat away at their earnings.

March 26, 2014

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is in the “late stages” of making a rule to regulate payday lenders. It is critical to let them know that the rule should not include loopholes that lenders can exploit to make expensive, unregulated loans.

March 6, 2014

U.S. Bank announced earlier this year it intended to purchase Chicago-area branches of RBS Citizens/Charter One Bank.

January 31, 2014
More good news keeps coming for consumers in early 2014. On the heels of new mortgage rules that took effect January 10, the following week four banks making payday loans pulled their products from the market. Announcing a halt to their triple-digit interest rates were Wells Fargo, Regions, Fifth...
January 29, 2014
More good news keeps coming for consumers in early 2014. On the heels of new mortgage rules that took effect January 10, the following week four banks making payday loans pulled their products from the market. Announcing a halt to their triple-digit interest rates were Wells Fargo, Regions, Fifth...
January 17, 2014
Regions, Fifth Third, US Bank, Wells Fargo to stop offering deposit advance products
January 10, 2014

Regulations will promote sustainable mortgages, protect new homebuyers and struggling homeowners

CHICAGO—New rules taking effect on January 10, 2014, will create a safer mortgage market with fewer tricks and traps, says Woodstock Institute. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is implementing rules that require mortgage lenders to ensure that borrowers can reasonably repay their loans, provide protections for borrowers who fall behind on their mortgages, and help current homeowners stay abreast of the status of their mortgages.

November 15, 2013

Ten mortgages to African Americans in 2012. Zero bank branches in low-income communities or communities of color. And below-peer-level lending to low-income communities in all of its assessment areas.

November 12, 2013

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announced last week that it will begin collecting consumer complaints on payday loans.

October 23, 2013
Illinois consumers issue more complaints about bank accounts and student loans than consumers nationwide, says Woodstock Institute
October 23, 2013
Testimony of Spencer Cowan before the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau field hearing on the impact of the Credit CARD Act. Cowan thanked the CFPB for enforcement actions against credit card issuers and urged them to assess the pricing of add-on products and restrict up-front fees. Cowan also...