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Financial Services Law Insights and Observations

Consumer groups urge Chopra to limit forced arbitration

Federal Issues CFPB Dodd-Frank Arbitration Consumer Finance

Federal Issues

On September 13, a collation of consumer advocacy groups sent a letter to CFPB Director Rohit Chopra, urging him to limit the use of forced arbitration in consumer contracts in cases where consumers have been “victimized by banking abuses or fraud.” Pursuant to the Dodd-Frank Act, Congress directed the Bureau to study the use of forced arbitration clauses in the consumer finance market and authorized it to write a rule to limit or restrict the practice, which resulted in a 2015 Arbitration Study report (covered by InfoBytes here). The report, according to the letter, “found that tens of millions of consumers were subject to forced arbitration clauses and class action bans in their credit card, deposit account, prepaid account, student loan, payday loan, and wireless carrier contracts,” and, among other things suggested only a small minority of consumers actually filed for forced arbitration. The letter argued that mandatory arbitration clauses in banks’ consumer contracts are “blocking millions of consumers from seeking justice,” and urged the Bureau to use its authority to ensure that “consumers are empowered to act as a group and on their own in the courts.” The letter concluded by urging the Bureau to “rein in forced arbitration in financial services.”

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