An Unlikely Sponsor of Legislation We Need: John McCain & 21st Century Glass-Steagall

Maybe nobody was more surprised than I was to hear that Arizona Sen. John McCain teamed up with my hero, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, to sponsor legislation that would rein in our nations bloated “too big to fail” banks.

After all, despite his seniority in Congress and visibility in the 2008 presidential campaign, McCain did damn-all for Arizona residents victimized by those banks’ overzealous foreclosure frenzy. In language typical of the big banks’ spin doctors, he actually had the nerve to blame consumers for the foreclosure crisis – a particularly callous position considering his home state was repeatedly ranked one of the top three hardest hit by the economic crash.

The staff of a hospitalized Rep. Gabrielle Giffords did more for me during my fight with Wells Fargo than the presumably quite healthy McCain despite the fact that I wrote him a very candid letter describing my experience of being strung along over seven months in the bank’s first of several reviews of my loan for modification.

It’s not as if he were a stranger to financial crises – he was one of five senators investigated for his ties with Charles Keating, a key figure in the late 1980s savings and loan collapse. Yet, he went on to establish a reputation for opposing financial regulation.

Perhaps his inaction in the face of the banks’ foreclosure frenzy has something to do with the fact that securities and investment companies remain among his top financial supporters. Which, of course, makes it even stranger that he’d be seen in public with Sen. Warran, let alone co-sponsor legislation that would rein his bankster benefactors.

Whatever his reasons for now siding with supporters of financial reform, McCain gives a pretty comprehensive review of the issue in the clip above. But he’s not  exactly a riveting speaker, more a monotone reader of his notes in this instance. If you want more background on the history of post-Depression banking reform, try this well-written Washington Post blog from 2013: Elizabeth Warren and John McCain want Glass-Steagall back. Should you?

The 21st Century Glass-Steagall will no doubt face stiff opposition by Wall Street and the banking industry. Bank shills rant and gnash their teeth when the subject of breaking up the “too big to fail” banking empires arises. Like McCain, they point their fingers at consumers – those greedy, lazy people who “bought too much house” and then refused to pay their mortgages.

Those few people who made bad financial decisions have to stand in line behind a whole lot of financial services industry insiders when the blame is handed out though. I think hedge fund manager James Rickards gets it right in his 2012 US News op-ed Repeal of Glass-Steagall Caused the Financial Crisis.

“It is true that the financial crisis has enough blame to go around. Borrowers were reckless, brokers were greedy, rating agencies were negligent, customers were naïve, and government encouraged the fiasco with unrealistic housing goals and unlimited lines of credit at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Yet, the fact that there were so many parties to blame should not be used to deflect blame from the most responsible parties of all—the big banks. Without the banks providing financing to the mortgage brokers and Wall Street while underwriting their own issues of toxic securities, the entire pyramid scheme would never have got off the ground.”

Since 2008 there have been some nominal attempts to stave off future economic disasters, including recent action by the Federal Reserve to increase capital reserve requirements for the eight biggest banks.

Reinstating some version of Glass-Steagall has been discussed since Congress (with McCain voting against) passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act in 2010. Part of the law was supposed to limit risky speculation by banks whose primary business involves holding consumer deposits.

But, of course, the banks sent their lobbyists to influence already complicit regulators and legislators in watering down and generally obfuscating this provision into a mostly meaningless mess. Economist Dean Baker explains that in a 2013 op-ed Glass-Steagall now: Because the banks own Washington:

“The Volcker Rule provision in Dodd-Frank was an effort to re-establish a Glass-Steagall-type separation, but the industry is making Swiss cheese out of this regulation in the rule-writing process. Serious people cannot believe that this will keep the Wall Street banks from using their government-guaranteed deposits as a cushion to support their speculative game playing.

If anyone questions how this story is likely to play out in practice, we need only go back a few years to the financial crisis of 2008-2009. At that time, most of the major banks, Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, almost surely would have failed without government support.”

Those banks are still spending billions to fund political campaigns and then influence elected officials to thwart attempts to limit their seemingly insatiable appetites. And it has worked. Instead of getting smaller, the biggest banks have gotten bigger since 2008, though the growth rate of at least the four largest has slowed somewhat compared to pre-crisis, according to a May 2015 report by The Brookings Institution.

Sadly, it seems small local and regional banks have been the biggest casualties since the economic bust. Some have failed but many have – you guessed it – been gobbled up by big banks to make bigger banks.

Why should you care?

Is that enough information for you to contact your senators and representatives to urge support for Warren and McCain’s 21st Century Glass-Steagall?


Don’t Let Big Banks Break the Economy Ever Again

Contact your Congressional representatives to urge them to support the reinstatement of Glass-Steagall. If we don’t break up the big bully banks and restore some safeguards, we’re setting up a cycle of boom/bust that always costs the average person and ends up putting more dollars in the pockets of the rich and powerful. And those rich banksters will keep using their wealth and influence to subvert the democratic process, ensuring the rest of us have no real say in how our country is governed.

“We weren’t sent to Washington to work for the big banks. It’s time for the banking a system that serves the best interests of the American people, not just those few at the top.”

“We weren’t sent to Washington to work for the big banks. It’s time for the banking a system that serves the best interests of the American people, not just those few at the top.”       ~Elizabeth Warren

Still don’t understand why you should get involved and insist that Congress pass Warren’s bill? Here’s a great op-ed piece by Robert Reich: Time to bring back Glass-Steagall.

Or watch this classic episode of Moyers & Company that explains the whys and wherefores very clearly.

Want to do more? Sign these petitions and share on social media.

PETITION TO CONGRESS: Pass Elizabeth Warren’s Glass-Steagall Bill

Help Elizabeth Warren rein in Wall Street

Pass Elizabeth Warren’s Glass-Steagall Bill


The Mortgage Modification Scam Still Alive and Well at Wells Fargo

Lest you harbor hopeful thoughts that a series of much-publicized no-wrongdoing-admitted settlements with the banksters means they’ve stopped cheating on mortgage loan modifications and other foreclosure-related transactions, consider the following. (They’re still cheating.)

These search phrases that brought readers to my blog tell me that people are still being jerked around by Wells Fargo. That in defiance of requirements specified in the National Mortgage Settlement, Wells Fargo is still dual-tracking and screwing around with short sales. Oh, and probably still employing overzealous lockout/trashout tactics. (Yeah, and how much would you bet that robo-signing is still going on in deep, dark basements somewhere?)

Yes, these examples focus on Wells Fargo, but given recent history, do you really believe the other big banks aren’t still doing exactly the same?

Here’s a sampling of searches from just the past 30 days:

  • i qualify so why wont wells fargo give me a home modification hamp
  • scams through wells fargo loan modification program
  • wells fargo ignores short sale request
  • has anyone been forclosed on while working with the bank on a modification with wells fargo
  • wells fargo is the most inflexible and dishonest mortgage holder
  • wells fargo cheated me
  • i was denied modification from wells fargo
  • loan modification wells fargo fraud
  • wells fargo fraudlent mortgage modifications
  • wells fargo scared my tenants into moving
  • wells fargo changing locks illegally
  • i got no home modification from wells fargo
  • wells fargo mortgage sold my loan before forbearance

Not that different from the web searches homeowners have been doing for the past six years as the banks have stolen millions of houses and screwed with the lives and livelihoods of millions of people.

I expect this will go on and on as long as 1) people continue to do business with the big banks, thinking government and fake regulatory agencies will keep them safe and 2) big corporate banks own the federal and state politicians who should be protecting the American people from financial ruin.

How can you protect yourself and beat the banksters’ scams? Pretty simple.

  • Take all your money out of Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Citi, Ally, Chase and any other bank that’s focused more on making money than serving customers and instead do business with small regional/local banks and credit unions. Keep your money working in your community with a simple commercial bank, the kind that exists to provide services such as checking and savings accounts. You don’t want to risk being the cash cow for the greed-fueled traders at one of the “too-big-to-fail” investment banks.
  • Never, ever take out a loan with an institution that has the contractual right to sell your loan to another party or to sell the servicing rights to another party. You want to decide which financial institutions will get your business, not be a pawn in some bank executive’s greed-fueled frenzy to get a six-figure bonus.

Timmy G’s Version of Recent History

If you’re a big fan of revisionist history and want to read more government spin on the financial crisis that triggered a multi-billion-dollar foreclosure frenzy, ex-Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s new book is just the thing for you. Here are some excerpts as reported by the Wall Street Journal.

On a silver-bullet for the foreclosure crisis:
“Housing was an impossibly complex issue that didn’t lend itself to simple solutions, and the limitations of our housing programs were a lot 
easier to identify than they were to fix. We were under intense pressure to improve these programs—not only from our many critics, but from the President, who was deeply unsatisfied with our early results, and constantly pushed us to do better… We were dissatisfied and frustrated, too. Some of our programs were stumbling out of the gate. Others weren’t ambitious enough. We would keep looking for ways to expand their power, reach, and effectiveness throughout the president’s first term.

“If there had been a game-changing housing plan that could have provided much more relief, we would have embraced it. We had some of the nation’s best progressive talent working on housing. We also had powerful incentives to throw everything we had at the problem; the press was killing us and so were our political allies… We tried to do what we could within the constraints we faced. It wasn’t enough. But it was more than most people realized.”

On the shortcomings of the Home Affordable Modification Program, or HAMP, the administration’s primary mortgage-relief campaign:
“We ended up requiring a mountain of paperwork for permanent relief, in part to appease critics such as [Neil] Barofsky, [the special inspector general for the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program] who warned that the limited safeguards in our initial proposal were an invitation to fraud; we decided that in this case he had a point. But Larry [Summers, the director of the White House National Economic Council] warned that we were so worried about “false positives,” providing aid to the underserving, that we would allow too many “false negatives,” denying aid to the deserving. He had a point as well….

“By [late 2009], it was clear that HAMP’s reliance on the broken infrastructure of the mortgage servicing industry was a serious problem. This was probably unavoidable; we didn’t have the authority to start up a new government agency or hire thousands of loan specialists ourselves, and even if we’d been able to get the authority from Congress, it would have been a long and messy process. But the servicers, many of them owned by the banks, had little experience modifying loans, and nowhere near the capacity or the resources they would need to modify millions of loans. They had been completely unprepared for the housing crisis, and had laid off staff in droves after the bubble popped.

Now we were asking them to conduct a challenging and time-consuming form of triage, and they were terrible at it—slow to hire, slow to figure out how to provide relief, just slow. In fairness, many of the borrowers they were supposed to track down were hard to find and harder to engage; homeowners also struggled to find every required document. But many times incompetent servicers found ways to lose those documents multiple times….”

What a load of crap former Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is spewing in his newly released book. No surprise he’s trying to re-write history: millions of Americans lost their homes completely unnecessarily because of his inability (unwillingness?) to make his Wall Street cronies at the big banks follow the very specific guidelines for modifying mortgages that were supposed to drive the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP).

HAMP wasn’t a perfect program by any means, but if it had been implemented in any meaningful way a whole lot of people would have kept their homes. All Geithner’s department and the other agencies tasked with oversight had to do was bring the banks to heel and get them to comply with the guidelines of the program, something that should have been within his power (for all he protested it was not). The “carrot” built in to the federal program was miniscule – small amounts of money offered for banks who followed the guidelines and completed what should have been fairly straightforward re-structuring of mortgage loans. (Lower the payments by decreasing the interest rate for a few years, extend the term of the loan and add a balloon payment on the end. Pretty standard stuff.) But the “stick” should have been huge: comply with the guidelines or don’t get bailed out. Fail. Simple as that.

But over and over Geithner and the other regulators failed to act in the interest of the American people and instead caved and waffled and,
eventually after years of blatant lies and fraud, negotiated some anemic and highly ineffective “punitive” settlements.

It’s not as if Geithner didn’t know the banks were running a big scam in the name of HAMP. How many letters do you suppose the Treasury Department got from homeowners detailing the now-familiar story of people trying for months and, eventually, years just to get the banks to
acknowledge that the proper paperwork had been submitted for review. I played the paperwork game with Wells Fargo for two years, sending the same forms over and over and waiting nearly eight months for one of the modification reviews to be complete (even though the HAMP guidelines specified the review take no longer than 30 days.)

I didn’t write to the Treasury Department, but a letter I wrote to President Obama in November 2010 got routed there in July 2011, presumably because Treasury was supposed to be overseeing HAMP. This referred me to a division of Fannie Mae (then tasked with administering the modification program) called the HAMP Solution Center, which resulted in a fake “investigation” of my allegations against loan services Wells Fargo and “investor” Freddie Mac. The staff of the Solution Center asked me no questions and gathered no data or facts other than my initial letter. I’m quite convinced that all they did was ask Freddie Mac whether Wells Fargo had done what it was supposed to in my case. (Or at least they said they asked; I got copies of no such correspondence.) Big surprise, Wells Fargo reported that it had complied in every way with the program and said the delays were all my fault because I just kept failing to send them paperwork on time (Big LIE!) and I didn’t qualify for HAMP (LIE!). The Solution Center took that as read and blew me off, as subsequently did the Treasury Department. The message to my bank: just keep on lying and cheating and we’ll just go on looking the other way.

Bankster apologist Geithner talks about the “broken infrastructure” of the mortgage servicing industry as if the poor banks just didn’t have the
resources to process all those re-structuring requests. But the same banks managed to originate all those mortgages – even at the height of the home-buying frenzy – without whining about being overwhelmed and under-staffed. Re-structuring those existing loans shouldn’t have required nearly as complicated a system as the origination. (If you’ve ever bought property, you know all the paperwork and logistics involved.) To modify a mortgage per the HAMP program guidelines all they really had to do was verify income eligibility, something institutions tasked with loaning money have been doing as long as there have been such institutions.

Create a system, teach the system to staffers assigned to the task, publicize the exact steps applicants need to follow and get on with
business. That’s assuming, of course, that you honestly intend to re-structure these loans. However, I know for certain that the big banks
never, ever intended to comply with HAMP. How do I know this? Simple. The banks never designed nor shared such a system. You could scour the websites of these big banks for weeks and still not find anything as simple as a checklist for what documents needed to be submitted before a HAMP review could commence and what the timeline for said review would be. And if you called your loan-servicer bank and spoke with one of the (mostly) polite but completely useless customer service people to whom your call was routed, they couldn’t tell you this information, either. (Nor were they allowed to tell you who was doing the review or how to contact that person or pretty much anything else of substance that a company engaged in honest business would openly provide.)

What the banks did instead was develop a system to string along their borrowers, to generate who-knows-how-many millions in “servicing”
fees while also extorting more money out of homeowners with a scam known as a “trial modification.” And in a grand stroke of coincidence, each and every one of the big banks seemed to come up with many of the exact same strategies for this, the best known of which was (and still is) the endless paperwork game. Send the same paperwork over and over and over and be told it’s lost or wrong or, my personal favorite, “stale.” On sites like HissingKitty and RipoffReport you can read thousands of accounts from homeowners seeking loan mods from Wells Fargo, Chase, Bank of America, Citi and all the little subsidiaries and the stories pretty much follow the same line. Loan mod scam with concurrent foreclosure process (the deadly “dual track“) proceeding with the force of a freight train and nothing – not logic, not the law, not ethics or morals or compassion or even the fact that the person being persecuted didn’t hold a mortgage – could stop the engine.

Pure chance or do you think the banks got together and conspired to create a system to thwart the mortgage loan re-structuring program and defraud millions of homeowners out of their property? I for one believe they gleefully shared their stalling strategies as they developed, including that extremely expedient forgery system that became known as “robo-signing.”

And all of this happened on Geithner’s watch and with Geithner’s full knowledge. Anyone with a brain realizes this. To the banksters that
makes him a hero, part of the mechanism that yielded them six-figure bonus checks while the average American was struggling to stay above
water. To those of us who were lied to and jerked around by those banksters, he’s one of the evil conspirators, someone who could have
stopped the foreclosure feeding frenzy and did not.

I’m not saying it was his decision to chose inaction over doing anything substantial to turn the tide of foreclosures. I firmly believe the fault for
that lies with the Obama administration, which either implicitly or explicity blocked every agency that could have prevented the big fee-crazy
mortgage servicers from raping and pillaging millions of homeowners. But with his close relationship to the Wall Street fat cats, it’s easy to imagine his natural inclination led to favoring the corporate cash grab over the little guys defending their homes.

So of course he’s out there hawking his revisionist history and disparaging anyone still calling for justice for the millions Americans who had the rug pulled out from under them by a financial crisis not of their making and who lost homes not because there wasn’t a “silver bullet” to stop
foreclosures but because men like Timothy Geithner conspired against them with the very people who did cause the crisis and who were
getting rich off its fallout.


“Wake me up when someone goes to jail.”

The headline is a quote from investigative journalist Matt Taibbi, who has written some of the best articles on Wall Street fraud and greed and the mortgage/financial debacle. He’s writing about yet another bogus investigation into the unbridled greed and blatant fraud that brought the economy to its knees back in 2008.

Despite the hue and cry of millions of foreclosed homeowners and more than a few excellent journalists, there’s been nothing like real justice for what the big banks and Wall Street did to cause so much grief. And, aided and abetted by Congress (with a few notable exceptions), the Justice and Treasury departments, the President and the colluding “regulators,” the greed-crazed financial execs are winding up to take another whack at the economy.

How? By going on doing exactly what they were doing pre-2008, only now with even more arrogance and sense of entitlement, secure in the knowledge that they’ll get richer and get away with it again.

“These banks are not getting smaller; they’re getting larger. There are now more too-big-to-fail institutions than there were prior to the 2008 crisis.” 
Gretchen Morgenson, Why Banks Are Still Too Big To Fail

 The “too big to fail” myth is still alive and well five years after the first domino, Lehman, fell and seems to be accompanied by an overwhelming belief that the perpetrators are also too big to jail. That’s a very dangerous situation. Overthrowing countries dangerous.

And it’s not going to get reined in any time soon, not as long as our political leaders are so cozy with Wall Street and the big banks.

“When JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon testified before the Senate Banking Committee earlier this year about the “London Whale” scandal, only two of the senators facing him had not received campaign contributions from his bank. Dimon was also called “Obama’s Favorite Banker” for a while.”
From Seven Things You Wanted to Know About Prosecuting Wall Street

Still holding out hope that somewhere, someone is investigating the facts behind your predatory mortgage loan or any of the fast-and-loose dealings that brought on the crisis? Sorry to say, the statute of limitations for some of the infractions is about to expire.

And that special task force on the mortgage crisis that President Obama announced in his January 2012 State of the Union speech? Well, without funds and staff, NY AG Eric Schniederman didn’t have much of a chance to

“…hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many homeowners.”
~ Barack Obama, 2012 State of the Union

I predicted at the time that it was just another of Obama’s false promises to beleaguered homeowners. Very disappointing that I was right.

What would revive our economy and our faith in the nation where we live? Easy. If you’re of a “certain age,” you probably said it every morning of your grade-school days:

“Liberty and justice for all.”

In the meantime, you can stop supporting the companies that are getting away with fraud by simply removing your patronage. Move your accounts to a community-oriented local or regional bank or credit union and go on about your business as if the big banks simply don’t exist.

I only want to hear about the banksters in one context: Wake me when someone goes to jail.

Throw the Bum/Comptroller Out

The so-called federal regulators are still aiding and abetting the big fraud-factory banks to hide their shady foreclosure procedures, both past and ongoing. And the lying, cheating and stealing goes on and on.

From the North Dallas Gazette article What we don’t know about foreclosure practices may still hurt us:

“A recent study of the Independent Foreclosure Review (IFR) process by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) cited significant flaws, including a lack of transparency, in the design and implementation of the process. The IFR process was created in 2011 because several mortgage servicing companies and their affiliates were found to have regularly engaged in questionable, unsafe, and even illegal practices.”

 Yes, in my case Wells Fargo, servicer of my misbegotten mortgage loan, absolutely engaged in questionable, unethical, immoral, unprofessional and what I certainly consider to be illegal practices. And I’m hardly alone. The big banks’ loan mod and foreclosure practices – such as lying to homeowners and playing all kinds of games to manipulate them into the giant sinkhole known as the “foreclosure track” – appear blatantly illegal to any average, common-sense person.

Unfortunately, hardly anyone who could do anything about it considers what the banksters do is illegal. That includes the legion of legislators who get big campaign donations from the financial industry, as well as a whole lot of judges and about all the states’ attorneys general. And, of course, the completely impotent Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which is tasked with supervising banks to “ensure that they operate in a safe and sound manner and in compliance with laws requiring fair treatment of their customers and fair access to credit and financial products.”

 Despite the GAO’s conclusions, however, the Fed and the OCC have decided to double down on the secrecy surrounding the process: refusing requests by Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representative Elijah Cummings (D-MD) for information about the IFR process, and about specific violations of law—including wrongful foreclosures, excessive fees, and fraudulent affidavits filed in court.

So, what next? I don’t think Sen. Warren will back down. In fact, maybe she  should call on President Obama to replace the current Comptroller with someone who isn’t so obviously in bed with the banksters. He has the power to do that, according to the OCC’s own website:

“The OCC was established in 1863 as an independent bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The President, with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate, appoints the Comptroller to head the agency for a five-year term.”

Maybe the Senate should look out for the American people and retract their consent for the appointment of the incumbent. Maybe the President should take some action that actually helps beleaguered homeowners instead of making speeches that offer hope and help and justice that never actually materializes.

Throw the bum out! That might also put the FDIC back on the side of the consumer, as well, because the Comptroller also heads that agency. (No wonder it’s giving the banks a bye, as well.)


Sen. Warren Calls for Real Financial Reform

Want to put an end to the big banks’ self-serving myth of “too big to fail?” Support Elizabeth Warren’s push to revitalize the way banks and financial institutions are structured, a la Glass-Steagall.

And don’t be fooled by the bank shills who will be running in circles yelling ridiculous things like “the sky is falling” and “regulation will cost too much” and “limiting the size of banks will harm the economy.” The only thing that will be harmed will be the bonuses of the billionaire bank executives.

Learn more:

Have to say I was stunned pleasantly surprised to see John McCain’s name on the bill. After he did damn-all to help Arizonans weather the foreclosure crisis – and considering securities and investment companies were among his top campaign contributors – it’s pretty amazing. (Wanna bet it means he’s not going to be needing their big bucks again. Chasing legacy instead of campaign $$.)


Even the FDIC Covers for Bad Banks?

The banks are being aided and abetted in their greed frenzy by pretty much every power center you can imagine: by the President, Congress and the judicial system. By the Treasury Department and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and most of the state attorneys general.

For homeowners beset by predatory mortgages and fraudulent foreclosures, there aren’t many allies left standing. Elizabeth Warren and Elijah Cummings in Congress. Eric Schneidermann, if he comes through. The Consumer Financial Protection Agency, we hope. And, of course, our old friends at the FDIC.

We’re taught from the time we open our first savings accounts as children or teens that the FDIC, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., is looking out for us, ensuring the money we deposit in financial institutions is safe and secure. Yep, the FDIC exists to serve consumers in case of bank insolvency or wrongdoing. Or not.

Turns out this purported regulator of the financial services industry isn’t looking out for us at all. In fact, it’s helping banks cover up their dirty deeds and has been for years. From the LA Times article on the subject:

“Critics describe the FDIC’s current practice of low-profile deal-making as a major departure from the S&L crisis.

“‘In the old days, the regulators made it a point to embarrass everyone, to call attention to their role in bank failures,’ said former bank examiner Richard Newsom, who specialized in insider-abuse cases for the FDIC in the aftermath of the S&L debacle. The goal was simple: ‘to make other bankers scared.'”

I’d just like to know what agency exists today that can make bankers scared of any of the sins they commit against their customers. Or a so-called regulator that actually looks out for the average citizen.

How can I make informed decisions about the financial institutions I trust with my money if the agencies tasked with informing me are actually in league with the industry to cover up wrongdoing? With the technology available today, I should have no problem steering clear of any company that doesn’t routinely do business fairly, ethically and legally. Yes, I can easily access a list of failed banks on the FDIC website. I should also be able to find information about banks that have been investigated for and found guilty of any kind of wrongdoing.

I should, for example, be able to access regulator’s databases for information on complaints against banks as easily as I can search at my local Better Business Bureau’s site. There I can find out whether a business I’m considering patronizing has a good rating or has been subject to customer complaints.

More important, I can also learn a bit about those complaints and how they were handled.  Now one or two successfully closed complaints won’t necessarily cause me to shun a company. On the other hand, the fact that more than 5,500 complaints against Wells Fargo Bank were reported to the BBB over the past three years might give me pause. Especially because even with the BBB’s intervention, more than 800 of those were not resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.

Meanwhile, my credit union has an A+ rating from the BBB and has had zero complaints of any kind over the past three years. None. Not one.

By the way, while I was on my local BBB site I pulled up nationwide complaint and inquiry statistics for 2012 and found that banks and banking services generated nearly 500,000 consumer complaints, financial services created more than 800,000 public contacts and mortgage bankers, brokers and lenders together accounted for more than 2 million consumer inquiries and complaints.

And that’s just problems reported to the BBB, which admittedly doesn’t have the cachet or the influence to right consumer wrongs that it did a decade or two ago. But, apparently unlike most of the country’s attorneys general and seemingly every single bank and financial services regulatory body out there (including the FDIC), at least the BBB is still on the side of consumers. I think.

FDIC Secretly Settling Bank Cases For Years With ‘No Press Release’ Clause

Give ’em Hell, Elizabeth Warren!

Sometimes it seems like Sen. Elizabeth Warren is the only person in any power position in this entire country who understands and has a problem with what the big banks have done to utterly and completely screw millions of American homeowners.

It’s no surprise to those who have been fighting off the banks’ foreclosure feeding frenzy that regulators, including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is squarely on the side of the banks.

Big Banks Still Too Big to Jail?

Justice for the millions of people who lost their pensions to the financial crisis? Or the millions who lost their homes to schemes and lies perpetrated by the banks? Nope. Jobs gone, communities devastated, people strung along and then dumped by their financial institutions. And, of course, nobody held accountable because in this country, money buys power and influence.

These two videos do a pretty good job of telling the story of how the financial services industry is getting away with years of lies and fraud.

The Colbert Report
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