Reports on Consumer Protection

The reports below represent a sample of Frontier Group’s work on Consumer Protection. For more of our reports on this and related topics, please visit Full archive coming soon.

Unhealthy Debt: Medical costs and bankruptcies in Oregon

The high cost of health care, expensive monthly insurance premiums, high deductibles, and expenses not covered by insurance all add to health care’s strain on Oregonians’ finances. One indication of the financial burden of health care is the number of Oregonians filing for bankruptcy who report having medical debt. To help consumers, Oregon policymakers should pursue a variety of policies to reduce the high cost of health care, including a state-level public insurance option.

(September 2021)
Break the Waste Cycle: Producer Responsibility Policies to Move the U.S. Toward Zero Waste

Producer responsibility programs are a valuable tool for tackling the plastic waste crisis. They have a successful track record of shifting incentives for producers away from new materials and extraction, and towards waste reduction and recycling.

(October 2020)
Auto Loan Complaints Rise: Pandemic worsens existing consumer problems with car buying in CFPB data

Financing the purchase of a car is a minefield for consumers at even the best of times. Tricks and traps in the auto marketplace can leave consumers paying more for a car than they should, or worse, to being victimized by predatory and abusive practices. Auto Complaints Rise reviews complaints to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and reveals key problems facing consumers purchasing or leasing vehicles - and finds that complaints have spiked since the beginning of the pandemic.

(October 2020)
Unsafe Used Cars for Sale: Unrepaired Recalled Vehicles at AutoNation Dealerships

AutoNation, which bills itself as “America’s Largest Auto Retailer,” is selling recalled used vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. In a survey of over 2,400 used vehicles for sale at 28 AutoNation locations, 1 in 9 were found to have unrepaired safety recalls. Those vehicles are potentially hazardous to the people who buy them, their passengers and everyone else on the road.

(October 2019)
Debit Cards on Campus: Putting Students' Financial Well-Being at Risk

College students across the U.S. are at risk of being taken advantage of by banks that pay colleges to market checking accounts directly to students. These campus debit card accounts can come with high and unexpected fees that put college students, many of whom are managing their own finances for the first time, at risk.

(April 2019)
Driving Into Debt: The Hidden Costs of Risky Auto Loans to Consumers and Our Communities

In much of America, owning a car is the price of admission to society. Owning a car is also expensive, and drives millions of households to take on debt. Americans currently owe more for their cars than ever before, leaving millions of Americans financially vulnerable – especially in the event of an economic downturn. The rise in auto debt since the Great Recession has implications not only for consumers who take out car loans, but for the economy and transportation system as a whole.

(February 2019)
Debt Collectors: CFPB Data Reveal Consumer Complaints by Company

For most of its history, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has stood up for consumers, including by publishing detailed analyses of financial complaints. However, the CFPB's latest report fails to include the names of companies that receive the most complaints for abusive debt collection practices. This new analysis fills in the gaps, telling the story the Trump administration won’t about the problems consumers face with debt collection agencies across America.

(June 2018)
Shining a Light on Consumer Problems: The Case for Public Access to the CFPB’s Financial Complaints Database

The acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Mick Mulvaney, is considering removing public access to the CFPB's online repository of more than one million complaints related to consumer problems with financial products. The Consumer Complaint Database provides revealing data on problems that affect millions of Americans - and removing it from public access would deprive consumers of a critical tool for understanding and protecting themselves from interactions in an increasingly complex marketplace.

(June 2018)
Improving Price Transparency: Oregon Patients and Providers Need Better Information on the Cost of Health Care

Oregon consumers have a limited ability to learn the price of health care in advance of receiving treatment. When patients are asked to make decisions about care without access to meaningful price information, they are unable to make informed decisions. Oregon should pursue additional measures to improve the visibility of prices for patients, providers and health plans.

(March 2018)
Older Consumers in the Financial Marketplace: An Analysis of Complaints, and Results, From the CFPB

Older consumers are at risk of harm from predatory financial behavior. An analysis of more than 72,000 financial complaints submitted by older consumers (those 62 years of age and older) to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB, or Consumer Bureau) and contained in its Consumer Complaint Database suggests that mistreatment of older consumers by financial companies is widespread.

(October 2017)
Used Car Roulette: CarMax Doubles Down on Selling Unsafe Recalled Vehicles

CarMax, the nation's largest retailer of used vehicles, is selling recalled vehicles that contain dangerous safety defects. In a survey of nearly 1,700 vehicles for sale at eight CarMax locations – four in Massachusetts, two in California, and two in Connecticut – more than one in four vehicles (27 percent) were found to contain unrepaired safety recalls.

(September 2017)
Protecting Those Who Serve: How the CFPB Safeguards Military Members and Veterans from Abuse in the Financial Marketplace

The men and women who serve in America’s military are also active consumers in America’s financial marketplace, where tricks and traps can cause harm to their finances and their lives. An analysis of more than 44,000 complaints submitted by active duty servicemembers and military veterans to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and contained in its Consumer Complaint Database finds that mistreatment of servicemembers by financial companies is widespread.

(June 2017)
Medical Debt Malpractice: Consumer Complaints About Medical Debt Collectors, and How the CFPB Can Help

Medical debt collectors often employ aggressive tactics and attempt to collect debt from the wrong customers – putting consumers' credit records at risk. Medical debt accounts for more than half of all collection items that appear on consumer credit reports. A review of 17,701 medical debt collection complaints submitted to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) shows that problems with medical debt collection are widespread and harm Americans across the country.

(April 2017)
Big Banks, Big Overdraft Fees: The CFPB Defends Consumers Against Harmful and Deceptive Fees

Through the first three quarters of 2016, 626 large banks reported collecting $8.4 billion in revenue from overdraft and NSF fees, an increase of 3.6 percent over the same period in 2015. American consumers should look to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), which has already enforced overdraft regulations and returned millions of dollars to consumers, to take new action to prevent unfair overdraft fees.

(December 2016)
Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society

Net energy metering has been instrumental in the rapid growth of solar energy in the United States, making it more affordable for people to “go solar” and enabling solar panel owners to earn fair compensation for benefits they provide to other users of the electricity grid and to society at large. The 11 studies reviewed in Shining Rewards demonstrate that the value created by solar energy – in avoided energy losses, reduced need for capital investment in the grid and reduced greenhouse gas emissions – is often higher than the compensation solar panel owners earn through net metering. 

(June 2015)