Montana Organizing Project

  Montana Voices

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March 2017

The consumer watchdog has taken action against firms that victimized U.S. military service members with illegal debt collection, battled financial abuse of seniors, obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for students defrauded by predatory for-profit colleges and obtained relief for Wells Fargo customers who got charged for fake accounts. They also enacted rules requiring mortgage lenders to evaluate a borrower’s ability to repay a loan. Additionally, the CFPB addressed student loan servicing problems, an abusive debt collection system, and overdraft fee abuses.

Wall Street firms and predatory lenders have attacked the CFPB since day one. Bills have been introduced to create a weak commission rather than a strong, single directorship; to reduce the agency’s independence from big bank lobbyists by politicizing its funding; and to decimate its effectiveness by removing its authority to examine institutions for compliance with the law. CFPB enemies urged Trump to fire Cordray, despite his effectiveness in standing up for ordinary people harmed by powerful financial industry abuses.

Katie Sutton -- Billings Gazette / Read Full Article


MARCH 2017

During the housing crisis, thousands of Montanans were harmed by the abusive lending practices of national banks, led by Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Both have paid billions of dollars to federal regulators for their wrongdoing. In my consumer law practice, I spoke with literally hundreds of Montana consumers who's homes and livelihoods were put at risk by the reckless practices of these banks. The CFPB was created to prevent this from happening in the future, and the agency's rules have helped even the playing field between Montana consumers and homeowners and large out-of-state banks.

Kim Wilson -- Helena Independent Record / Read Full Article


February 2017

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was created by Congress after the Great Recession to protect consumers and reduce the risk of another economic collapse. The Consumer Bureau is an American success story; it was in the news a few months ago for its record $100 million penalty against Wells Fargo for millions of fraudulent consumer accounts.

This was just the tip of the iceberg – it has returned nearly $12 billion to over 29 million consumers from many companies that have broken the law. Additionally, its website hosts a complaint database that has processed over 1 million complaints, and it provides educational resources for making financial decisions.

Hallie Nuehaus --Missoulian / Read Full Article



Student loan debt has become a massive problem for Americans, with a huge number of borrowers defaulting on unmanageable debt every day. Not only does this hurt these borrowers but it creates multi-generational debt cycles that could have lasting impacts on the financial well-being of Americans around the nation.

Despite the CFPB’s efforts to protect consumers, some Senate Republicans are working to dismantle this essential organization and make it more difficult to crack down on predatory banking practices.

Phoenix Trent -- Missoulian / Read Full Article


January 2017

It can be daunting to realize that our holiday wants have outspent our budgets, making it easy to turn to high-cost, small-dollar loans or other small dollar transactions to get us through. The Center for Responsible Lending found that predatory lending fees totaled roughly $3.5 billion, usually from repeat borrowers who cannot repay within the two weeks required. Annual interest rates average 391 percent, causing nine out of 10 borrowers to become trapped in a cycle of debt. Payday loans are illegal in Montana, but lenders still ensnare shoppers through illicit online loans, which often lead to consumers paying more in interest and fees than the money borrowed.

Genoa Carver -- Billings Gazette/ Read Full Article


January 2017

Many Americans benefit from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau daily, yet its importance is not widely known. Since the election, the CFPB has taken on a company that cheated victims of lead-paint poisoning out of their settlements and four pawnbrokers who deceived consumers about the actual cost of their loans. They also stopped a payday lender from illegally taking money out of customers’ bank accounts without permission, and forced companies to stop advertising – falsely – that consumers could not lose their homes as a result of taking out reverse mortgages.

Katie Sutton -- Billings Gazette / Read Full Article


January 2017

Those who operate the payday loans cycle also often arm themselves with nasty debt collection practices which create a sense of urgency and use threats, shame and harassment to get people caught in taking out more loans which charge more fees and leave people without resource for basic needs. Even illegal practices like falsely threatening to sue or criminally prosecute, threatening to charge extra fees, harassing borrowers by phone, and sharing the details of the debt with employers and family members are used to continue and extend the cycle.

Grace is a public word. The payday loan cycle is set up to target people who cannot pay without hardship or re-borrowing. That cycle knows nothing of grace.


Rev. Mike Mulberry -- Billings Gazette / Read Full Article


December 2016

In 2008, Americans faced the biggest financial crash since the Great Depression. Millions lost their homes, went bankrupt and found themselves jobless, all because of corrupt predatory practices of big banks. These practices harmed the consumer, created the housing bubble and sent our economy into a multi-year downward spiral. Eight years later, we are still recovering.

The CFPB, designed to protect consumers like you and I, is under imminent threat under the incoming administration. Without the CFPB, we will face corruption, fraud and mismanagement on Wall Street in epic proportions, with no consumer protection and advocacy. Banks won’t be held accountable for their actions. The consumer will suffer, while big banks become richer.

Holly Seymour -- Missoulian / Read Full Article


November 2016

It’s terrifying to think that my family could lose everything because of corporate greed and rich executives who see us as numbers on profit sheets and bonuses in their wallets. We are not account numbers — we are people.

During the Wells Fargo bank fiasco, Tester brought up the “real world implications” of what corporations were doing to families back home. These real world implications prove just how much we need the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, which helped bring the Wells Fargo scandal to light.

Tester continues to be a leading voice for Montana in ensuring corporations are held accountable when they take advantage of consumers. This shows that Tester realizes that the work in Washington isn’t just about policy and laws or legislation, it’s about people.

Katie Sutton -- Billings Gazette / Read Full Article