How Well Does Indiana Protect Consumers from Unfair and Deceptive Business Practices?

INDIANAPOLIS– State Unfair and Deceptive Acts and Practices (UDAP) laws prohibit deceptive practices in consumer transactions, such as sales of cars and other goods, loans, home improvements, utility contracts, and mortgage transactions. A new report from the National Consumer Law Center (NCLC) finds that while a strength of Indiana’s UDAP statute is that it has broad prohibitions of deceptive and unconscionable acts, the statute has a number of weaknesses.

Applying the success of 'promotores de salud' to personal finance

During the 1960s, an alternative model for delivering health education to "hard-to-reach populations, traditionally excluded racial/ethnic groups, and other ... underserved communities" was gathering steam. The "instructors" of health education were called promotores de salud ("promoters of health"). Rather than being health care professionals, promotores were lay community members who received specialized training to provide basic health education. The practice was, and remains, especially popular in Latino communities where citizenship, language, and familiarity with the health care system are common barriers to accessing care. The core objective of the promotora is to educate target audiences about health issues affecting their community and provide guidance in accessing health care resources. 

The application of the promotora model from a health care application to a financial literacy application shows promise as an alternative model to deploy financial education to these same "hard-to-reach populations, traditionally excluded racial/ethnic groups, and other ... underserved communities."

Economic growth? Nation- and statewide only some are reaping the benefits

Tuesday, February 6 marked the release of the 2018 Prosperity Now Scorecard. Issued annually, the Scorecard is a comprehensive resource for data on household financial health and policy recommendations to help put everyone in our country on a path towards prosperity. It ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia across five issue areas: Financial Assets & Income, Businesses & Jobs, Homeownership & Housing, Health Care, and Education. The Scorecard also separately assesses states on the strength of policies to expand economic opportunity. The Scorecard is accompanied by a main findings report titled “Whose Bad Choices? How Policy Precludes Prosperity and What We Can Do About It?”

Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network Statement on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Payday Rule Reconsideration

On Tuesday, January 16, the effective date of the “Payday, Vehicle Title, and Certain High-Cost Installment Loans” rule, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a statement, indicating it would engage in a rule-making process to reconsider its Payday Rule. The Indiana Assets & Opportunities Network (the Network) sees this as a significant step backward in consumer protections for low-income households.

Asset Funders Network to release report on private funding for CSAs

The Asset Funders Network (AFN) will soon release a report on private sector investment in CSA programs. A preview of the report shows growing interest in the field as reflected by generous funding awarded to active, as well as emerging, CSA programs. By the end of 2016, 313,000 children in 29 states were enrolled in CSAs—a 39 percent uptick from 2015’s end. This growth has been facilitated, in large part, by private sector investment.  

Congress introduces bill to overturn rule protecting Hoosiers from payday lending

In early October, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) finalized a rule that would mitigate the harms of payday lending by requiring lenders to determine a borrower’s ability to repay before issuing a loan or limiting the number of loans made without conducting such a test. Advocates and borrowers alike praised the rule—developed after five years of study and public comment—as a positive step forward. But last Friday, six members of Congress introduced a bill that would nullify the CFPB’s rule.

Fisticuffs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: English and Mulvaney Vie for Leadership

Following Richard Cordray’s resignation from his role as Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), two people are clamoring to assume his post. Leandra English, formerly the CFPB’s Chief of Staff and promoted to Deputy Director by Cordray at the Eleventh Hour, asserts she is the rightful acting director, according to procedure established in the 2010 Dodd-Frank and Wall Street Reform Act. Meanwhile, President Trump named Mick Mulvaney, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), acting director, according to procedure established in the 1998 Federal Vacancies Reform Act. The acting director would serve in the interim while the President appoints a permanent director, which the Senate must confirm in a simple majority vote. 

English, who has helped lead the Bureau since its inception in 2011, and Mulvaney, who once called the Bureau a “sick, sad joke”, embody widely different visions regarding the future of the agency.

Doing the Math: "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" Doesn't Add Up

House Republicans unveiled their tax plan on Thursday, prompting debate between advocates and adversaries about whom the plan most benefits. Paul Waldman writes in an opinion-editorial for The Washington Post that the “two competing narratives” about the plan remain unchanged. Critics argue the plan favors the wealthy and corporations at the expense of the majority of Americans; supporters that it promotes economic growth that will trickle down.

Policy Update: Senate Strikes Down Consumer Bureau Rule to Guarantee Class-Action Suits

In July, the House voted to roll back the CFPB's rule (see how your House representative voted here). Now, the Senate has followed suit. On Tuesday, October 24 at 9:46 p.m. Vice President Mike Pence broke a 50-50 tie, thus, overturning the CFPB rule which would have allowed American consumers to file class-action lawsuits against financial institutions (see how your Senator voted here).

While praising federal payday loan rule, Indiana advocates call for further action from state lawmakers

On Thursday, October 5, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) issued a rule that will reduce the harms of payday lending in Indiana. On a press call Friday, October 6th, advocates from the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network, representatives of faith and military / veterans’ organizations, and a payday borrower spoke in favor of the rule, but noted that the CFPB did not have the authority to change the cost of payday loans. They called on Indiana lawmakers to take further action to lower the interest rate – currently capped at 391% APR. 

Vice President Pence in Indiana to Advocate for the Administration's Tax Plan

The Trump Administration’s proposed tax plan would shortchange working families in Indiana. Andrew Bradley, Senior Policy Analyst, Indiana Institute for Working Families, writes that “added together, the three low- and middle-earning quintiles (making up 60% of Indiana’s population) would only get 11.7% percent of the planned cuts, while the top 1% alone would take home 46.1% of the state’s share of the cuts.”

Whose side are they on? House members vote to protect payday lenders

A majority in the U.S. House of Representatives once again sided with America’s payday lenders, voting to strip the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—American consumers’ watchdog—of the authority to regulate this industry. The vote came Thurs., Sept. 14 during the debate over the Financial Services and General Government bill, which funds some basic functions of the federal government, including the Treasury Department.

Catholic Charities to Offer Free DACA Renewal Workshop

Beyond the economic contributions Dreamers make to the U.S. economy and the fiscal irresponsibility of repealing DACA—it poses an enormous strain on taxpayers—the repeal of DACA should not be analyzed exclusively through an economic framework. Dreamers—many of whom have never known a home other than the U.S.—have been denied the freedom to live in the U.S. without fear based on their place of birth and skin color.

CFPB to Release Proposal on Payday Lending Protections as soon as Mid-September

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), a consumer watchdog group, plans to release a proposal that would regulate two categories of loans — short term loans, defined as having a repayment plan of less than 45 days and long term loans, defined as having a repayment plan of more than 45 days. However, long term loans would only be regulated if they have an annual percentage rate (APR) greater than 36 percent or are repaid directly from a borrower’s checking account, wages, or secured by the borrower’s vehicle. The proposal was published as a draft last year with organizations like the Center for Responsible Lending supporting some of its measures and criticizing others. The final proposal may be released as early as mid-September.

The Intersection between Community Health and Community Development

National Public Radio (NPR) recently published a segment titled “Your ZIP Code Might Be As Important To Your Health As Your Genetic Code.” The segment details Kaiser Permanente, a nationwide care consortium’s, Portland, Oregon hospital. When a patient approaches the receptionist’s desk, she is asked to fill out a “life situation form,” which inventories the patient’s non-medical stressors. The questions, which gather information about housing, finances, transportation, and food access, provide Kaiser Permanente a richer picture of the factors that influence their patients’ health so that they can more effectively treat them.

The life situation form is a mechanism for determining the social factors that influence a person’s health and, for years, public health professionals have championed studying and addressing these factors, designated the Social Determinants of Health.