The CFPB’s Consumer Complaint Database is a window into the problems faced by consumers in the financial marketplace.

The Consumer Complaint Database is treasure trove of information on the problems consumers face with banks, credit bureaus, and other financial companies.

As soon as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) opened its doors in 2011, it began accepting complaints from consumers facing problems in the financial marketplace — and often helping those consumers fix their problems or get financial relief.

But the CFPB didn’t stop at just accepting complaints. In 2012, it began making complaint data available to the public through the Consumer Complaint Database. Over the years, the database has become a treasure trove of information on consumer experiences in the financial marketplace, offering critical insights for consumers, researchers, CFPB watchdogs and the private sector. …

Key climate technologies including solar panels have not only gotten cheaper than ever before, many now rival in cost the fossil fuel technologies they need to replace. (Photo credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL)

It’s no coincidence that critical clean energy technologies have gotten affordable right when we need them most.

For a big job, you need the right tools. And for the very big job of preventing the worst impacts of global warming, some of the most important tools are clean energy technologies including wind turbines, solar panels, electric vehicles, energy storage and electric heating and cooling for buildings.

Research published over the last couple of months makes it clear that, entering 2021, these critical climate tools have not only gotten cheaper than ever before, many now rival in cost the fossil fuel technologies they need to replace:

  • According to the latest from Lazard, which has been tracking energy costs…

When it comes to avoiding predatory auto loans and leases, consumers need way more help than they are getting. (Photo credit: Greg Gjerdingen via Flickr)

What can the CFPB Consumer Complaint Database tell us about the tricks and scams faced by consumers buying or leasing a vehicle? And what can we do about?

Last week we released , a report looking at vehicle loan and lease complaints in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB’s) Consumer Complaint Database. The report is a deep dive into the problems consumers face when buying or leasing a vehicle, and includes dozens of key data points, as well as powerful consumer stories from the database.

Here are three key takeaways from the report:

  1. Even before the pandemic, consumers faced rising levels of abusive and predatory behavior when buying or leasing a vehicle. Buying a vehicle has never been anyone’s idea of a good time, as demonstrated by the…

Sewage spill in Fort Lauderdale. Credit: City of Fort Lauderdale via Facebook

What happens when policymakers prioritize ribbon cutting over repairs to critical infrastructure?

A recent Guardian article reported that, in the last five years, 1.6 billion gallons of sewage spilled in Florida, in nearly 14,000 separate incidents. These sewage spills are every bit as gross and as dangerous as you’d imagine, threatening human health, wrecking ecosystems, and causing toxic algal blooms. Sewage spills also contribute to water quality problems at Florida’s famous beaches, 100 of which had advisories for unsafe bacteria levels in 2019. 1

Florida’s epidemic of leaky pipes is what you get when you combine aging sewage infrastructure with increased flooding caused by global warming. The Miami Herald recently wrote that…

Electric buses are a superhero of clean energy tech — like personal electric vehicles, but with even bigger and better benefits

Recent pledges by California, New York City and Seattle to transition to zero-emission fleets mean that 33 percent of all transit buses in the U.S. are now committed to go electric by 2045. Photo credit: New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority via Flickr

Just a few weeks ago, the Delaware Transit Corporation announced it had received new federal funding for what feels like the platonic ideal of a clean energy project: A solar array on top of an electric bus facility in Dover. The project provides a glimpse of the truly clean, emission-free transportation that we get when we ride public transit powered by the wind or sun.

When it comes to climate technologies, it’s easy to forget about buses, which have been faithfully serving our cities and schoolkids for a century. The buses on the road today are already helping fight global…

Homeowners badly need relief during the coronavirus crisis. Evidence suggests they’re already running into problems with servicers.

Photo: pxfuel.

Tens of millions of Americans with mortgages have been put in a tough spot by the coronavirus crisis. As of May 3, around 4 million homeowners were in forbearance plans, and mortgage delinquencies were on the rise. Many more consumers will likely seek forbearance or loan modifications in the weeks and months ahead.

This means that millions of Americans are about to spend a whole lot more time with their mortgage servicers, the companies that are responsible for reviewing loan modification and forbearance requests, as well as processing payments, managing escrow accounts, and overseeing other day-to-day tasks on behalf of…

It’s time for the CFPB to step up

Since March 1, consumers have submitted more than 4,000 debt collection complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Photo: Shutterstock/Palmer Kane LLC

The Consumer Complaint Database of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) is a “canary in the coalmine” for problems in the financial marketplace. Launched in 2012, the database lists the thousands of complaints submitted each month to the nation’s chief consumer watchdog, providing a valuable picture in near real-time of problems as they develop, either with specific companies or with the market as a whole.

As might be expected, the effects of the economic dislocation created by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis are beginning to show up in consumer complaints. …

A typical fracking site in southwestern Pennsylvania. Credit: USGS

Taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for fossil-fuel messes for years — and more may be to come

“Clean up your mess.”

It’s a command that every parent has given, and every child has heard. It also applies beyond the home. When companies engage in environmentally destructive behavior and fail to clean up after themselves, the rest of us pay — either with a degraded landscape or with our tax dollars.

Oil and gas producers have been hit in recent weeks by the economic one-two punch of low oil demand during the COVID-19 pandemic, and a supply glut resulting from a trade dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia, leading some to seek help from Washington. But the fact…

Officials should prioritize giving the public the ability to engage with the process from home

Public, in-person hearings are impossible during coronavirus — so policymakers must give us new ways to engage. Photo: Maryland GovPics via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

In the year of coronavirus, government decisions are impacting our daily lives more directly than at any time in recent memory. At the same time, our ability to stay involved in those decisions is diminished. Not only is it harder than ever to find time and energy to devote to anything beyond staying healthy and keeping the refrigerator stocked, it’s also the case that we can no longer safely attend in-person public meetings.

The good news is, government can adapt. …

But a NEPA rollback could leave us in the dark

The North Houston Highway Improvement Project
The North Houston Highway Improvement Project
The North Houston Highway Improvement Project could have devastating community impacts — but we only know about them because of the project’s environmental impact statement. Credit: TxDOT via YouTube.

As the Trump Administration presses forward in its attempts to gut the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), much has been written about the negative environmental impacts that would follow. As Gina McCarthy, former administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, put it, “For the past 50 years, NEPA has been an essential part of the public process, providing critical oversight that the federal government relies on to fully understand the potential implications of projects that can harm people’s health and the environment.”

At stake is NEPA’s requirement that major federal projects like highways, pipelines or power plants provide an “environmental…

Gideon Weissman

tweets about energy, environment, transportation, consumer protection, and boston.

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