Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

Green Business Network Member Tells White House Representatives of Abuses in the Consumer Financial Market

White House representatives hear directly from consumers and business leaders about how they've been impacted by unfair and deceptive lending practices

September 22, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC -- Last week, Martin Paule of Jacksonville, Oregon participated in a White House conference call on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and consumer protection. Mr. Paule is the Marketing Director for Sympatico Clothing, an apparel company whose products respect people and the environment, and a long-time member of Green America’s Green Business Network. On the call White House representatives heard directly from consumers and business leaders who have been impacted by unfair and deceptive lending practices – the kind of practices that the CFPB is designed to put a stop to.

Mr. Paule related his recent experience in which an "application" for credit card services turned out to be, in effect, a contract for those services. He contacted the company representative who later informed him that the "application" signed was in fact a binding contract and equipment lease agreement, and that despite his clear indications that he had no interest in ultimately using the company’s services, he would be compelled to pay for them. It took months for Mr. Paule to extricate himself and the business from this agreement. He observed, “As many small business operators have discovered, credit card clearance services may include "gotchas" they weren't bargaining for.”

This story illustrates just one of the many reasons why we need an effective consumer cop on the beat. We cannot allow the problems that plague our financial system to continue to hurt consumers and small business.

Senior White House and National Economic Council staff joined the call to hear stories and to answer questions. The conference call also included discussions of the role the CFPB can play in ensuring and enforcing fair rules of the road for consumer financial products.

Republican leaders in the Senate recently renewed their pledge to refuse to implement the consumer protection law passed in 2010 by refusing to consider Richard Cordray’s nomination to direct the CFPB, leaving the Bureau without the full authority it needs to do its job.  This may work well for Wall Street banks, and financial industry special interests, but it leaves the public at risk. As families and small businesses navigate hard times, it is especially important to prevent financial tricks and traps. Fran Teplitz, Green America’s director of social investing, noted, “Green America strongly supported the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and we find it irresponsible of our nation’s leaders that this crucial institution still lacks a director. Our society and economy need a strong CFPB director who will put consumer protection ahead of the greed of the Big Banks.”

GREEN AMERICA  is a non-profit organization whose mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. www.greenamerica.org

Media contact: Fran Teplitz, fteplitz@greenamerica.org.

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