2013 Equal Justice Works Fellow, Elizabeth Fusco

Elizabeth Fusco

Name of Host Organization: New Economy Project
City, State: New York, New York
Issue area: Consumer Rights
Sponsors: The Ottinger Family Foundation; Anonymous

The Project

Liz is engaging community groups and low-income New Yorkers in shaping financial reform by providing legal assistance and linking groups in neighborhoods most affected by the financial crisis with regulatory and enforcement agencies.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project: 
In the years leading up to the financial crisis, a glaring lack of regulatory oversight enabled a long list of financial institutions to take advantage of low-income people and communities with impunity. This project serves as a critical bridge between regulators and low-income communities and communities of color in New York City to create a sustained, dynamic connection to fight ongoing financial injustices. Liz works to ensure that victims of unscrupulous financial practices have their concerns and perspectives included in the rulemaking and enforcement work of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) as well as other federal and state regulators.
Highlights to Date: 
In the first year, Liz has:
• Filed complaints and obtained favorable outcomes for low-income New Yorkers harmed by payday lenders, deceptive debt collection, and abusive bank overdraft protection practices
• Researched and co-authored “How Banks Sell Overdraft,” a report detailing abusive bank overdraft practices at the nation’s largest banks, issued in conjunction with three other consumer protection organizations in California, Illinois, and North Carolina
• Collaborated with local organizations and legal clinics to build filing complaints into their legal representation so that financial regulators learn about the bad practices that regularly affect New York City residents
What's Next: 
In the next year, Liz plans to:
• Continue to file complaints on behalf of individuals affected by unfair, deceptive, abusive, and unlawful financial practices
• Collaborate with New York state groups to emphasize the importance of creating national payday lending standards
• Work with local and national groups to bring individual stories of debt collection abuses to the CFPB to make the case for strong, effective regulations as the bureau prepares to draft the first large-scale national regulations governing the financial industry
• Push for strong regulatory action on practices and products that drain resources from low-income neighborhoods and communities of color, such as payroll cards and overdraft protection loans

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