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Consumer Financial Protection: Opinion of People Aged 50+

AARP recently commissioned a nationwide survey to understand public opinion on consumer financial protection issues. The results show nearly unanimous support for numerous consumer financial protections.

Key findings from the survey, shown below, reveal that support is high across political parties.

  • Almost all respondents (96%) favor requiring banks to explain the terms and conditions of loans, including mortgages and credit card debt, in plain language people can understand. Support is consistent across all political parties, with over 9 in 10 members of all parties backing this requirement: Republicans (98%), Democrats (95%), and Independents (96%).
  • More than 9 in 10 (93%) favor requiring companies that manage 401(k) retirement plans to explain the fees they charge to participants and to clearly state those fees on participants’ annual statements. Again, support is strong across political parties with endorsement by over 9 in 10 Republicans (93%), Democrats (94%), and Independents (92%).
  • Overall, 93% favor enabling consumers to check an investment advisor’s record to see whether they have any prior violations or have been charged with professional misconduct, with strong support across parties: Republicans (95%), Democrats (89%), and Independents (95%).
  • 92% favor requiring investment companies to disclose the costs, risks, and benefits of all the financial products they market and sell using plain language and a user-friendly format. Again, results show support of more than 9 in 10 respondents across parties: Republicans (91%), Democrats (91%), and Independents (95%).
  • Overall, 90% favor holding financial salespeople who engage in deceptive marketing accountable, with consistent support from Republicans (92%), Democrats (89%), and Independents (90%).
  • Almost 9 in 10 (89%) favor protecting people from predatory lending practices, such as excessive fees and penalties, on products ranging from mortgages to credit cards. Support is strong across political parties, with positive responses from 86% of Republicans and 91% of Democrats and Independents.
  • Two-thirds (66%) favor allowing states to enact consumer protection laws that are stronger than federal law. This figure is fairly consistent across political parties: Republicans (68%), Democrats (67%), and Independents (66%).
  • Approximately six in ten people (59%) do not think people and banks that sell financial products always make sure the product is suitable for the individual buying it. This sentiment is shared by similar numbers of Republicans (64%), Democrats (55%), and Independents (59%).

The report also shows that consumer support is strong throughout all regions of the country.

The survey was conducted by Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) from January 14 to January 24, 2010, among a nationally representative sample of 815 respondents at least 50 years old. The margin of error is +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.  For more information, contact Colette Thayer at 202-434-6294. (4 pages)