Let's make sure that the voices of the financial industry are not the only ones heard by Washington. Please call Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Banking Committee Member Evan Bayh (D-IN) during the Americans for Financial Reform National Senate Call-In Week of March 1-March 4 and tell them to support financial reform that holds Wall Street accountable, including the creation of a strong and independent Consumer Financial Protection Agency.
Although these OCC actions come too late to protect millions of consumers who have already been harmed by deceptive marketing and high-cost RALs this tax season, Woodstock Institute welcomes the OCC efforts as a step in the right direction. The new OCC Policy will be effective only if it is rigorously enforced, however. The new Policy’s disclosure requirements and prohibition of deceptive marketing practices are only slightly stronger than an OCC policy that has been on the books since 2007 but never widely publicized or enforced.
Their story is not uncommon. In fact, the Illinois Attorney General’s office has seen a sharp rise in complaints against debt settlement companies, culminating in a lawsuit filed earlier this month alleging four companies of abusive and deceptive practices. “These companies are unfairly luring financially strapped consumers with misleading claims that they can effectively eliminate consumers’ debt,” Attorney General Lisa Madigan says.
Community development financial institutions, or CDFIs, play a key role in providing financing to small businesses, particularly those in traditionally underserved communities that have been hit hardest by the crisis.
At issue is a 2007 federal guidance, which requires banks making refund anticipation loans, or RALs, through paid tax preparers to review both the advertising and the professional qualifications of paid tax preparers arranging the loans. Advertising violations and incorrectly prepared tax returns suggest that the guidance has not been adequately implemented.
Failure to disclose interest rates, adequately supervise third party loan arrangers acting as agents of national banks, and maintain sufficient capital-these are the same criticisms my organization and others lobbed at the mortgage industry long before its collapse. These criticisms apply just as well to the tax refund loan industry. Rather than wait, we ask federal banking regulators to take additional steps to protect consumers now — before another $114 million in potential assets are lost this tax season.
Illinois has currently has about 150,000 units of manufactured homes, representing about 3 percent of the state’s housing stock. Of those, over half were built prior to 1980. More than 2 million Americans, often elderly and people with disabilities, live in homes built prior to the national code for manufactured housing established in 1976. They have the highest energy burden and least resources to replace their homes.