Weekly Address: Protecting the American People with New Wall Street Reforms
In this week’s address, President Obama highlights the work of the new independent consumer watchdog he fought to create. This agency’s mission is to stand up for consumers and includes protecting every American from mistakes made by the companies who determine their credit scores.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
October 27, 2012
Hi, everybody. It’s now been four years since a crisis that began on Wall Street spread to Main Street, hammering middle-class families and ultimately costing our economy 9 million jobs.
Since then, we’ve fought our way back. Our businesses have added more than 5 million new jobs. The unemployment rate has fallen to the lowest level since I took office. Home values are rising again. And our assembly lines are humming once more.
And to make sure America never goes through a crisis like that again, we passed tough new Wall Street reform to end taxpayer-funded bailouts for good.
Wall Street reform also created the first-ever independent consumer watchdog, whose sole job is to look out for you.
That means making sure you’ve got all the information you need to make important financial decisions like buying a home or paying for college. And it means going after anyone who tries to take advantage of you, or rip you off.
Starting this month, that includes the folks who come up with your credit score.
If you haven’t checked out your credit score recently, you should. It can have a major impact on your life. It can determine whether or not you qualify for a loan or what kind of interest you have to pay. It can even affect your chances at renting an apartment or getting a job.
But here’s the thing: the companies that put your credit score together can make mistakes. They may think you had a loan or a credit card that was never yours. They may think you were late making payments when you were on time. And when they mess up, you’re the one who suffers.
Until this week, if you had a complaint, you took it to the company. Sometimes they listened. Sometimes they didn’t. But that was pretty much it. They were your only real hope.
Not anymore. If you have a complaint about your credit score that hasn’t been properly addressed, you can go to consumerfinance.gov/complaint and let the consumer watchdog know.
Not only will they bring your complaint directly to the company in question, they’ll give you a tracking number, so you can check back and see exactly what’s being done on your behalf.
And fixing your credit score isn’t the only thing they can help with.
If you’re opening a bank account, trying to get a student loan, or applying for a credit card and something doesn’t seem right, you can let them know and they’ll check it out.
If you’re looking to buy a home, and you want to know if you’re getting a fair deal on your mortgage, you can give them a call and they’ll get you an answer.
Their only mission is to fight for you. And when needed, they’ll take action.
For example, alongside other regulators, they recently ordered three big credit card companies to return more than $400 million to folks who were deceived or misled into buying things they didn’t want or didn’t understand.
That’s what Wall Street reform is all about – looking out for working families and making sure that everyone is playing by the same rules.
Unfortunately, that hasn’t been enough to stop Republicans in Congress from fighting these reforms. Backed by an army of financial industry lobbyists, they’ve been waging an all-out battle to delay, defund and dismantle these new rules.
I refuse to let that happen.
I believe that the free market is one of the greatest forces for progress in human history, and that the true engine of job creation in this country is the private sector, not the government.
But I also believe that the free market has never been about taking whatever you want, however you can get it. Alongside our innovative spirit, America only prospers when we meet certain obligations to one another, and when we all play by the same set of rules.
We’ve come too far – and sacrificed too much – to go back to an era of top-down, on-your-own economics. And as long as I’m President, we’re going to keep moving this country forward so that everyone – whether you start a business or punch a clock – can have confidence that if you work hard, you can get ahead.
Thanks and have a great weekend.