With the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau currently in the midst of a study that will help it determine whether to abolish or more tightly regulate mandatory arbitration requirements, lobbyists are lining up in full force on either side of the issue. It is not unusual for banks and credit unions to compel arbitration for checking account agreements; and the practice also is commonly applied in cases involving insurance policies, credit card contracts, and debt collection. Banks insist it is less expense, more efficient, and more beneficial to the consumer; but consumer attorneys say financial providers often structure arbitration clauses in a way that makes it difficult to pursue a claim. Consumer advocates also complain that financial contracts often bind consumers to the arbitration process without placing the same restriction on the bank. To date, the courts have tended to side with the industry in disputes with consumers over arbitration; but a recent Pew Charitable Trusts report concluded that 68 percent of consumers "want a choice between court and arbitration" while just 21 percent believe forced arbitration should be the norm. CFPB's take on the study, along with its own research, could turn the tide in consumers' favor.
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